What are you seeing of the Georgia Tech and their defense this year under Jon Tenuta?
Bowden: They lead the ACC in tackles for losses and sacks. Multiple pressure looks. Five man pressure. Three deep, three under. Traditionally you bring four. His deal is getting to you before you make a decision. He's done it really good for years and he wins more than he loses and his statistics bear that out. More pressure. We are a multiple formation offense and they are a multiple formation pressure team.
Would you define his style of defense as "creative?"
Bowden: It would be creative. Yeah. I don't know anybody else that does it. Everybody else does bits and pieces. What is unique about him is the amount of time he uses it and the different variations.
How do you explain the success you had against that defense last year?
Bowden: It's like trying to explain the success Virginia Tech had against us. We weren't that good and they weren't that bad. Same two teams played the year before and it was 10-9.
Do you feel like part of the design of your offense is that it matches up well with aggressive defenses?
Bowden: Well the screen game is awful good versus pressure. The multiple formations … in a sense that's like running the option. You have play gap sound defense. A-gap. B-gap. C-gap, etc. The two wing guys have the D-gap and they flip over here and everybody has a different responsibility then. Sometimes that can take away from a defense's aggressiveness and calls.
By aggressiveness you mean man coverage as well?
Bowden: You are going to get single coverage in this game. If the last few years is any indication. We didn't watch the second half of Samford. B.C. is the one that took them down the field. Their guy is 6-5, 230 and ours is a little bit shorter. It's a low-percentage throw and catch. So you want to take some shots, but they aren't high-percentage shots.
Your quarterback has 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Can you recall a quarterback you've had having that kind of success?
Bowden: No. Shaun King might have but his interceptions might be a little bit more. I can't recall it. Shaun King would be the closest.
Have you changed your mindset on how you view last year's quarterback situation with Cullen's recent success?
Bowden: No. He (Cullen) made the statement last year that he wasn't ready. I'm paraphrasing.
Will Proctor was really that much better last year?
Bowden: Yes. The separation last year was significant.
Are you still intent on getting Willy Korn in the game in meaningful situations this season even with Cullen's success?
With Harper this season, he really seems to really be playing well. Talk about that.
Bowden: We know more now than we did four weeks ago. Georgia Tech will be better than N.C. State defensively. In fact Georgia Tech is ranked higher in every defensive category than we are. Every week he's passing the tests. The meat of our schedule is coming up. We've gone through Monroe and Furman, and some of the lighter part of our schedule.
Do you sit down at this point and remind Cullen that this is where Will Proctor was last year before things went south?
Bowden: I think their personalities are completely different. Rob has a pretty good handle on it. There are times when I talk to the quarterback but most of it is Rob. He's been doing it for 27 years. But Cullen is different than Will. He handles things differently.
You've had a lot of success on first down this year. Can you talk about the importance of that in terms of being less predictable than what you were last year?
Bowden: I think at N.C. State we were averaging close to 10 yards on first down. That's a first down again. We didn't have a second and long. That opens up your whole offense from a play-calling standpoint.
If you had your choice of good play calling ability, good execution or weapons that created mismatches, which would you rather have?
Bowden: I've had both scenarios. At Tulane we didn't have great weapons but we had a good scheme. Here we've got the potential for both. If I had my choice, I have been undefeated with much less talent. That was in Conference USA. If you tied me down and forced me to make a choice, I'd pick scheme over talent.
How does Georgia Tech compare as a rival in the ACC with the new divisional format?
Bowden: Since they are not in our division, it doesn't count as a divisional loss. It is a rivalry. This is only our third year of doing this stuff. A divisional loss has a few more points than a conference loss. We recruit the same prospects. The players know each other. It's a pretty good rivalry in that regard.
How important is the state of Georgia when it comes to recruiting?
Bowden: Other than South Carolina it's our second state. It's the second most important state we recruit. Then you go to Florida and Alabama. Geographically that state is closer.
You mentioned the last week was you guys hitting on all cylinders. Last year against Georgia Tech that was another game where you clicked on cylinders and we know what happened after that. How do you make sure the same thing that happened against Virginia Tech last year doesn't happen this weekend?
Bowden: We've talked about that. We talked about it Sunday. When we played Georgia Tech on national television, I can't imagine how humiliated they were. They responded the following week after that loss. We got to Virginia Tech and we got humiliated on national television. We go on to lose three of four after that. Georgia Tech has lost their last two. So, Georgia Tech has responded much better to defeat than how we have. They start seven seniors on defense and five on offense. Those guys are back. We've discussed that particular situation with the team.
Obviously you must have seen the clip of Coach Gundy getting a little crazy about the column in Stillwater, Okla. You've always told your players you have to talk to the media. How do you feel about the coverage and the scope of what should be in inbounds with players?
Bowden: I don't know what was written or said. I did see his response on TV. I don't know about the quarterbacks (there). He said what I occasionally think. I probably wouldn't handle it that way. I always make my players available to the press. I thought the article was an opinion but I could be wrong.
Do you it is okay to criticize amateur athletes in the media?
Bowden: Most of the media around here, don't. I think I should get most of the criticism. Not all of it. Most of it. Sometimes if y'all wrote a receiver dropped four balls than he dropped four balls.
Do you get the sense this could be a special season?
Bowden: Well, I hear and see them say the things that need to be said. But the true test is how we play on Saturday. We've played three straight games without a turnover. I thought the demeanor last week was good around the hotel and with traveling. I think those are pretty good signs and indications. But it's too early to tell whether this team will show up in game nine, 10 or 11. I had so many seniors last year and we were riding high and all of a sudden we lost a couple of goals on the table and we lost our edge. This year is a different scenario. I just don't know yet.
It seems like you kind of fired a shot of your own back at the media after the game Saturday in your postgame press conference. Can you talk about your thinking and mindset with those comments?
Bowden: Y'all have covered me now for nine years. I inherited that from my family. My mother in particular. It's just banter back and forth. If you can't take public criticism this is the wrong profession. It's easy for me because I've seen my father and brother respond. I might respond in a light hearted manner. But I surely wouldn't expect to not be criticized after a loss. Or by not playing somebody. As soon as I lose it will go back to longer press conferences, more controversy.
Would it be great for Cullen to continue to play so well that we continue to ask you why he didn't play last year?
Bowden: Oh yeah. Having two quarterbacks, people say is a controversy. It's a great problem. It's such a highly publicized position. They usually get too much credit and too much blame. You guys have to write something. We have some talented writers here and I don't give them too much to say outside of practice every night. So I don't have a problem with that in people wanting Willy to play more. Or people talking about controversies. I wouldn't want your jobs and I wouldn't want your salaries either. (laughing)
Last year you were 7-1 and you said you did a poor job of getting the team ready. Obviously you wouldn't want to repeat that. How do you figure out through self-analysis and all … you know what you did from week to week. How do you know how to change that?
Bowden: Last year when we were beating Temple by 50, North Carolina by 50 … everybody was saying well ‘Coach Bowden never beats the teams his is supposed to.' We have to focus on getting better than we played the week before. As a head coach, when I went back and evaluated myself on what we would do differently. Surely it wasn't the score. You know when you are so close, one point away, one play away the last two years of winning the divisional championship you don't want to re-invent the wheel.
Tommy Bowden's Press Conference
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