Q&A with Tommy Bowden

"No he performed well last night," said Tommy Bowden about his starting quarterback. "He made some good throws. Had a touchdown pass to Jacoby Ford. Had one to Rendrick Taylor. Had a nice third and long conversion to Aaron Kelly."

Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden appeared on RUSH HOUR, the new morning show on the flagship station for Clemson sports- 104.9 FM The Drive Friday morning. Here is the audio and transcription of that interview:

AUDIO (13:19)

How is the battle for the starting quarterback position going up through the first four spring practice sessions?
Bowden: It's going good. They've all been able to stay healthy. We had our first scrimmage situation last night. Right now they've had no contact because our best chance at Florida State, since we are inexperienced at that position, is at least to have as many at-bats in scrimmage situations as possible. If they are going to get hurt, let them get hurt in a game as opposed to out here at practice. Competition has been good though. Right now they are lumped in there together. We scrimmaged some last night. Just about a third of the way through spring, I didn't want them going into spring break without having some idea of Willy Korn's ability to manage (the team) in a scrimmage type environment with our numbering system, handling the players, checks, the right reads. So we pretty much limited the repetitions last night to Cullen and Willy and held the other two simply because we wanted to see Willy before spring break.

So at this point, it sounds like Harper has done nothing that would make him relinquish the starting position.
Bowden: No he performed well last night. He made some good throws. Had a touchdown pass to Jacoby Ford. Had one to Rendrick Taylor. Had a nice third and long conversion to Aaron Kelly. Also managed the team well and executed the passing game good. But the other three, they are all competing. They are chasing him, there's just not a separation. Last year at this time, with Tribble, Will and Harper, there was a lot of separation. This year there is not.

It sounds like Barry Humphries has gotten off to a good start this spring. How comfortable are you with him as the starting center?
Bowden: He's our starting center but there is still a lot of work to be done. We don't have a center that's played many snaps. I'm not comfortable at this stage but I don't have to be because we aren't playing anytime soon. But if he continues to work and Bobby Hutchinson continues to work, and we have a young walk-on Ben Ramsey that's done a good job and we've thrown Thomas Austin in there some. So if those guys continue to make improvement then we'll go in there with a solid guy at that position. Obviously with Dustin Fry, we lose a lot of experience and strength. Barry has good strength, he just doesn't have the experience. We don't have a great comfort zone right now but we are very pleased with their work ethic.

Do you think it helps get your team ready more for the season that open right out of the gate with Florida State?
Bowden: I'd say a couple of years ago- yes. But the way we've played the last couple of years our players have a pretty serious attitude and feel a pretty good sense of urgency with how we've opened up- Florida Atlantic last year. Florida State will surely have our attention, but I think our guys are working pretty hard. The older guys push the younger guys. And when we go out there in the summer we get a whole lot accomplished. The last couple of years, being one point short, the competitive nature of the games in a 12-game season. I think we've gotten to the stage where around here now, we are really really hungry to take this thing to another level. Joey Batson and his staff do a great job and I hope we are at the stage, and I think we are, where we understand the sense of urgency around here, that whether it's Florida State, Florida Atlantic, or Florida Tech or North Florida that we are going to prepare as best as we can. I think we've grown a lot in that area.

Can you talk about the young freshmen that are already on campus participating in spring practice?
Bowden: Well (TE) Kasey Nobles is redshirted. We've talked a lot about Willy Korn. DeAndre McDaniel has kind of stood out with the drills we've done. Really athletic. Catches the ball well. Not afraid of contact. You are always concerned about that with a young guy coming in. Xavier Dye has just done a really good job. Got a lot to learn but very very coachable. Landon Walker has a toughness to him. Brian Linthicum- again the toughness. We've been pleased with all them. All of those guys are probably going to play. Just very pleased with

We've heard talk that C.J. Spiller and James Davis are going to be on the field at the same time more this coming season. Can you talk about that possibility?
Bowden: Yeah I think we've got to find ways to get them both the ball. We got them both the ball enough (last year) to get 1,000 yards, and of course with C.J. we got even more at-bats with punts and kickoffs. But again, as we evaluate our talent and look at our formations, if we've got four receivers on the field and one back, in essence you've got your first, second and third wide outs, should we take one of those backs and give him some work as that fourth wide out? That would give us C.J. and James on the field and our top three wide outs as opposed to our top four with one of our top backs on the sideline. But yes- we are looking for ways to increase their productivity and get them on the field at the same time. Not in a traditional as a two-back set. We are trying to look at some new wrinkles in that regard.

Talk a little bit about Andre Powell and what you've seen of him as the running backs coach on the practice fields.
Bowden: Well he played the position. He's a technician. Several years of experience in the conference at Virginia and North Carolina. He's got a lot of knowledge which is good. Not that C.J. is a veteran but he's already played a lot of football. James is in his third year. But we are looking at some things we can improve with pass protection, and recognition and then some other running techniques that he brings with him and ideas from North Carolina and Virginia. Been real pleased with him. Hopefully he can get his house sold so he can get down here pretty quick.

Speaking of special teams, is there any possibility of Richard Jackson handling all three areas of the kicking game this year?
Bowden: There's that possibility. I think it's unlikely because of the competition - Mark Buchholz and Jimmy Maners. He's just a redshirt freshman. It's not like he comes in with a ton of experience. There's that potential because he does all three. I don't think it will happen but we'll see how it shakes out. We did some kicking yesterday and they both hit some nice long accurate field goals, and they also missed some pretty easy ones and were not real sharp with fundamentals but that's to be expected with a guy from the soccer team that just got out and a Richard- who's a redshirt freshman. They've got great potential and they'll continue to improve- same thing with Jimmy Maners as a punter.

Linebacker and cornerback are two positions that seemed to have some holes coming into the spring. Have you seen anything out of the new players stepping into playing time at those positions that makes you feel better going into the rest of spring and into next season?
Bowden: Byron Maxwell is a guy that hasn't played in a couple of years but he's had four pretty good days. Haydrian Lewis has looked pretty good. Sadat Chambers at the safety position. At linebacker- right now Josh Miller has played well. Kevin Alexander- who played as a true freshman on special teams that has really jumped out. Gosh, I want to say 6-foot-3 and a half and 235 pounds. He continues to get big. I hope he doesn't grow out of the position. Jamie Cumbie has done well. Our four interior guys- the older guys. Rashaad, Jock McKissic, Dorrell Scott and Phillip Merling- those guys have done good. Jamie Cumbie is a new guy. Ricky Sapp played a lot last year and continues to do well. Cortney Vincent at the inside linebacker position has done well. Showing really good leadership skills. Between Josh, Kevin Alexander and Cortney Vincent- they would be the top players inside. Of course we've got the ability to move Nick Watkins inside and Antonio Clay coming back so hopefully that will be a strong position for us headed into the preseason.

What is your schedule like for you and your staff the next 10 days with the team being on spring break?
Bowden: Well I'll give them some time off. They've gone pretty full speed since signing day. Those winter conditioning meetings- they start at 5:30 in the morning that really gives you a long day. They are fixing to head into junior recruiting right after spring ball. They are on the road for two straight weeks. So I'll give them some time off. I start IPTAY meetings Monday in Aiken. Then I'm in Newberry. Then I'll visit a college to look at some ideas. My coaches- I'll give them off.

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