Powell Responds to Critics

When a coach is brought into a new situation, it's best to give his ability as a coach and recruiter the benefit of the doubt. After all, Clemson tight ends coach Billy Napier had never coached the position or coached at a major college, yet there's not a Tigers fan alive that would trade him. Despite what other media outlets have said, Andre Powell deserves the same consideration.

Powell has spent the last six years as the running backs coach and special teams coordinator for a North Carolina team that has been pretty bad at times. He will be the running backs coach for the Tigers and will have a large role in special teams.

But just because the Tar Heels struggled, Powell says that's not indicative of what type of coach he is.

In an interview with CUTigers.com, which first informed fans that he was the top candidate for the job, Powell responds to the media critics.

On the criticism that he's "produced zero 1,000-yard running backs" in six years even though North Carolina is a "school that had the most 1,000 yard backs in the history of college football (even more than Southern Cal) before that time," Powell said:

"To have a 1,000-yard rusher, obviously you have to have a great guy to give the ball to," Powell said. "You've also go to have the philosophy that you're going to run the ball and have the intent.

"You also have to a solid offensive line. You have to have the athletes on offense to do it on a consistent basis. Also, if you're going to run the football, you have to have a good defense so the game doesn't get out of hand early and you're forced to pass.

"In 2004, we ran the ball as well as anybody in the league in terms of yards per carry. But those issues that I mentioned are the things that stopped us from having a 1,000-yard rusher."

Powell's recruiting ability was also called into question. "Beyond luring Asheville's Johnny White to UNC, (he) had very little recruiting success." Powell laughed when asked to respond to those allegations.

"I brought in some pretty good players to North Carolina," he said. "You build relationships and you get to know kids and their coaches and their parents and their friends and you try to get them on the campus.

"I work hard and spend time recruiting every day, whether it's texting or calling or visiting them. You just have to put forth great effort and I believe that I do that."

Powell said he has already started calling the high school coaches of players that he recruited for North Carolina to inform them that he is headed to Clemson.

Powell also said that he and Clemson coach Tommy Bowden discussed somewhat the role that he will have with special teams.

"We discussed special teams, but we didn't discuss it specifically," Powell said. "I've been fortunate to have spent time with special teams coaches in the NFL and other great coaches that have worked in that area.

"Special teams is an area where you can win or lose. If you have great athletes and you put them on special teams, you can make an immediate difference in the game."

Receivers coach and star recruiter Dabo Swinney was out of football and selling real estate before coming to Clemson to join Bowden. That hire had question marks surrounding it, as did Napier. But look how they turned out.

Powell deserves the same chance. He must have some sort of solid intangibles or otherwise he wouldn't be in the business as long as he has.

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