Q & A with Bobby Bowden

While not fully recovered from his team's defeat at Louisville, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden turns his attention to Thursday's home date against son Tommy Bowden and his Clemson Tigers. It's a matchup that could very well define the Seminoles' season.

Tommy seems to like to poke some fun at you. You don't seem to respond very often publicly. Do you just ignore it? Do you laugh at it?
Bowden: "I laugh at it. He reminds me of me. I've always kidded a lot, joked a lot. As the kids have come up, I've kidded them a lot. Tommy has adopted the same thing, and I laugh at it. It's funny, to me. It's just us. It's the Bowdens. It's Bowden-ball."

What do you kid Tommy about?
Bowden: "I might kid him about playing golf with him, or something - not ever practicing, not caring anything about it. I might kid him about anything. We kid all the time. It's just us."

This week, Tommy said he felt that his team is his best so far, especially on defense. Can you talk about that?
Bowden: "I have not been able to study them yet. I did see some of the Georgia Tech game when it was on television. I did get the feeling, watching them, that they're playing better. The defense especially is playing better. And his quarterback will keep getting better because he's getting valuable experience."

Could you talk about the three players you've got from South Carolina that have played for you this season?
Bowden: "Mike Boulware is starting. Alex Barron has started every game at tackle since Ray Willis got hurt (since the Virginia game). And of course Greg Jones has started every game at tailback. Those three - I think we got them in the same year, and every one of them is a starter. They've done an excellent job. All three of them is a reason for our success."

Is this game important for Tommy from a recruiting standpoint?
Bowden: "It's important to Tommy because I'm so much older, I've been around so much longer, and luckily I've had so much success - although not lately. Tommy's still seeking that. He's had some success, and he had it earlier than I had it in my career. He's still trying to be successful at Clemson."

How do you think your team will react to this loss?
Bowden: "I think we'll be mad. We should respond. That might not be good enough, but there's no reason we won't respond really tough."

Ragone hit some passes on you guys when you were in one-on-one coverage. Do you think you'll limit your blitzing against Clemson?
Bowden: "I think one thing Tommy's going to do is he's going to throw more skill at us than we've seen yet, all at one time. I think we'll have to mix it. I don't think we can just let him know what we're doing. They can pick you if you do that. Somehow, we've got to conceal what we're doing."

A lot of people had criticized your edge pass rush. Was Alonzo Jackson's performance one of the real positives of Thursday's game?
Bowden: "That would be one of them. We need to get some help somewhere else. That's more sacks than we've had in quite a while. The inexperience of their football team was the offensive line. We expected to get that. I just was hoping we'd get more. We've got question marks over there."

You've said this game is more important for Tommy because you're older. Has Tommy ever talked to you about how important it would be for him to beat you?
Bowden: "He never has, no. I just know Tommy. He's like me now. As we prepare this week, I'm not thinking about Tommy. I'm thinking about me now. And I'm sure Tommy is preparing for us and not thinking about me. He's thinking about beating Florida State."

He has said in the past that he'd like to be able to say he beat you once.
Bowden: "If we stay in it long enough, that may happen. Nothing lasts forever. This is the hard part about being family. I know Tommy needs to win the game. At the same time, I need to win the game. Tommy knows I need to win the game. He knows he needs to win the game. That's the sad thing about it. One of us ain't going to win it."

Is it more of a strain this week, because you both need the win, or is it more fun to face your son?
Bowden: "I think the part where he and I come into contact is very fun, but the strain will come from trying not to lose two in a row. That's where our strain will be. We don't want to lose two in a row. Then of course, Tommy's strain will be that they haven't ever beat us. They want to beat us."

Over the last two years, have you become concerned about your players abilities to win the games they should win?
Bowden: "I'm wondering why we don't make more plays than we do."

Do you think the players take these games too lightly?
Bowden: "I don't think so. I think our kids wanted to play. I think they played hard. The guy beating you for a touchdown pass is what concerns me. Letting the quarterback run for 40-something yards - I guess he was their leading ground-gainer. Those are the things that concern me. Somebody needs to be making some plays in there."

Twice Thursday, you went ahead and had a chance to knock them out and couldn't get it done.
Bowden: "We didn't do it. They also won another very important part of the game. If they hadn't, I think we'd have one. They brought that first kickoff back, nearly scored on it, and got three points out of that. That killed us. It seems like in the second half we were always behind our 30-yard line."

Are you comforted by the fact that you get to play Clemson in Tallahassee, instead of up there?
Bowden: "There's no place I'd rather play than right here. It'll be a night ballgame, and our crowd shows up pretty good at night. At least we'll have that in our favor."

When Greg Jones was being recruited, there was a lot of expectations that he'd move to linebacker. What's special about him as a back?
Bowden: "He wanted to play tailback. When we recruited him, we had to promise him he'd play tailback, because that's where he wanted to play. We promised him he'd play tailback, and that's where he's playing. He also would have been an outstanding linebacker."

Is Jones just a special talent?
Bowden: "Yes. He got through the line of scrimmage two or three times, where he got himself through there just on different cuts. But dadgum, their safeties are sitting up there, and you can't block the safeties. Their safeties were just like linebackers. They weren't little boys. They could take you to the ground pretty good. But he did some good things despite the statistics."

In your scheme, how important is it for you to establish him early?
Bowden: "We're a lot better when that happens. A team can prevent you from doing that, if they want to, by bringing eight guys up. He clears the line of scrimmage and there's a guy sitting there waiting on him. You can't block a safety. That forces you to throw the ball. They can force you to throw every down. That was the one thing that hurt us last night. We couldn't throw effectively, even when they came up there. It was like you were having to push your passes. We play better when it's a pretty day. I'm sure Tommy'd say it's the same way."

You can read more about the Florida State Seminoles by visiting TheTerritory.org.

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