Tommy Bowden's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Tommy Bowden previews Saturday's game against Virginia Tech.

Have you talked to Trevor Adair and what's the latest on how you plan to practice Mark Buchholz this week?
Bowden: I'm going to adjust the schedule a little bit. I've been kicking him early in practice and then letting him go. I'm going to keep him now. We'll kick him early. Kick him in the middle and kick him at the end. That's Plan A.

What's your mindset about talking to kickers?
Bowden: Sometimes I ride them during practice. But if you guys have noticed, not as much during the game. They kind of have their own scenario that they all go through. I don't want to disrupt that. That's my own personal opinion.

Other than not winning an ACC title have special teams been the most frustrating thing you've had to deal with during nine years as a head coach here?
Bowden: No not really. We went seven years without having a punt blocked. Seven years we didn't have a field goal blocked. This year, we've had two blocked punts. One kickoff return in five games. We had seven years without a blocked punt … seven years without a blocked field goal … that's better than Virginia Tech. That doesn't seem like a problem. Last two years … last year and a half. Yes. Last year, and kickoff return this year. Right now, I'd like to have two or three things back (from this season). Last year kickoff coverage was terrible. And the early field goals that were blocked but we didn't have any punts blocked.

Some of the confusion is the other day you gave the glass is half empty (after Georgia Tech)… how do we balance what you just said?
Bowden: I'm sure as you talk during the course of a day you would like to have error free grammar. We'd like to play error free football.

Do you get concerned about the mental aspect from your players? Do you get nervous you're your team is out there on special teams?
Bowden: Well you always worry about your kickers. You know his kicks were all long enough. But oh yeah. Every head coach is pretty much the same way. The snap. The punt. The protection. Even kickoffs. There are so many critical components. The ones you worry about the most are punt protection and kickoff coverage. Yeah you get real nervous as a head coach.

Are you having any second thoughts about the offensive game plan?
Bowden: No because when you look at the game we dropped two touchdown passes. We overthrew another touchdown pass and we dropped nine passes overall. If you correct that it's not a problem. If we don't fumble the punt they don't get the three. If we don't have the punt blocked they don't get the seven points. We would have won 24-3 under that scenario.

Do you talk to your team about other teams that have rebounded after a loss and had success?
Bowden: The ones I have used obviously was Maryland last week. They were up 24-3 and they are fixing to win the game and then losing. How demoralizing is that with that kind of lead? Or Wake Forest last year, losing to us and winning the conference. Georgia Tech last year, getting killed by us then winning the Coastal Division. Last year we lost to Boston College and rattled off five or six wins. I'm hoping that's how this team responds.

Is James Davis 100%?
Bowden: Probably 50% of my team is 100%. They are all banged up. This is a contact sport.

Does he have an injured shoulder?
Bowden: He might be on the injury list.

How you defend a quarterback like Tyrod Taylor who is so athletic?
Bowden: You have to be careful because your linebackers drop back into their zone coverage and he gets a crease. It's not like you can rush three guys and leave Rashaad, Dorrell and Jock McKissic. to try and tackle him. Against N.C. State, we gave our ends a lot of freedom. We can't do that against Virginia Tech because he can run. He's a guy that can scramble and hurt you.

Does it help that you played Furman earlier this year considering they play the robber coverage on defense?
Bowden: Yeah. A little bit. There are a couple of coaches said, it's not the X's and O's it's the Jimmy's and Joe's.

Is there a talent gap between you and Virginia Tech?
Bowden: As I've mentioned the last couple of years, I think Florida State, Miami and Virginia are just a tad ahead. We've closed the gap. We are a lot closer than when we went up there to face Michael Vick. It's not very far. They have more overall depth.

Have you had a chance to truly assess your offensive line's performance against Georgia Tech?
Bowden: Did not play as well as obviously as they did against N.C. State. If there are going to be any changes, we will address those changes later in the week. We did not play well at any position on offense. I would include that position along with the others.

Was it more mental or physical?
Bowden: There were some mental mistakes. That's kind of what that guy (Tenuta) does good. Sliding from even to odd. We did have some missed assignments. We didn't play well offensively.

Which lineman is playing the best for you right now?
Bowden: Well I have to be careful because the minute I say one name I get mamas calling me wanting to know why it wasn't their son. But I can say this, right now we have two seniors. The two that are playing the most consistent right now are Capote and McDuffie.

You had Aaron Kelly returning some kicks Saturday against Tech. Can we expect to see more of that this year?
Bowden: Well we haven't done real well. Just trying to put something different back there. Just rotating.

With Buchholz, how long do you go before you take some sort of drastic step?
Bowden: Not very long. It's not that I don't have confidence in Richard. The other guy, in practice didn't miss one last week during practice. Good height and none of them were sneaking through on the edges (of the uprights).

Don't you think the whole field goal kicking situation could be overblown considering four of the misses have come from over 45 yards?
Bowden: Yeah. I think we missed two short ones. One against N.C. State and one this past week. But if I want to improve from missing six out of eight, I have to do something. Let's see if we can do this. That's why I'm not kicking Richard Jackson. Those are long field goals.

Is your biggest fear that he can't make pressure kicks?
Bowden: It's not so much the pressure. It's the focus and the concentration. I told him yesterday, ‘I'm asking you to do something super man couldn't do. (playing two sports). You don't see somebody in the NFL doing this. Nobody else in Division I-A is doing this. I don't' remember the last time this has been done in college football. I don't get Soccer Monthly. He's a tough nut and he's accomplished a pretty good bit. That's why I haven't pulled him. I have to make sure I'm doing everything I can from a practice standpoint to give him the best chance to be successful.

Can you refresh us on your Spiller-Davis on the field at the same time? (stallion package)
Bowden: When we game plan it is based on the style of defense. I don't know if we used it against N.C. State but one time. We used it this week.

You were very committed to Davis at the beginning of the second half against Georgia Tech. Do you wish you would have done that more in the first half?
Bowden: Seems like last year we would stick with the hot hand a little bit longer. We've talked about what you just talked about. It seems like it happened naturally last year. You might see a little bit more of that. C.J. is like a jet. James is beginning to feel more comfortable in space. Sometimes he could outrun guys and he cuts back. He's developing a comfort zone though.

This seems like a huge game for your players, the fans, and perception of where this team is going?
Bowden: N.C. State was big. Georgia Tech was big. This one is big. That's a hard question to answer because they are all big. You'd like to be 5-1 going into your open date. It's big.

You're not worried about C.J. Spiller's confidence?
Bowden: You need to ask him. My father's confidence gets shaken sometimes and he's 77 years old. I'm sure players drop some balls and they lose confidence. I would say he be like most people. You'd have to ask him.

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