Tommy Bowden's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Head coach Tommy Bowden talked Tuesday morning about Saturday's homecoming opponent - the Central Michigan Chippewas.

Was it a good time during the season to have a week off?
Bowden: The biggest thing was injuries. Had we played last Saturday we would probably have been without two starting safeties and at least one lineman and some other starters. We should have most guys back by Saturday. Extra work on special teams was probably the biggest priority during the off week.

Would you rather have Temple back on the schedule instead of this Central Michigan team?
Bowden: Yeah. It's amazing. Scheduling is awfully important. This team has won 10 games last season and has scored 100 points the last two games. They've had draft picks in the top two rounds the last two years. Teams like that are talented.

Do they do a lot of things similar to West Virginia (where their head coach came from during the offseason)?
Bowden: Very similar. They will do some quarterback running plays. The zone read. A lot of the same things.

What is the mood of the team right now after two losses and an open date?
Bowden: They've worked hard. They worked hard the last week and during the open date. They've worked pretty good. I'm anxious to see how they bounce back the second half of the season.

If you had to talk about your goals on offense the second half of the season what would they be?
Bowden: Finish the season with a little more balance than what we've had now. More productivity in the running game. But I'm more concerned about wins. On the Christmas wishlist would be wins, instead of statistics.

How do you improve your offensive line play the second half of the season?
Bowden: Just continue to work. We are halfway through the year after replacing four starters. Just continue to work. We've played some pretty good teams. Calls are important. Continue to work together is important. Finish your blocks and hopefully we will get better as the season comes along.

Are you at the point where some of your younger linemen could see more playing time?
Bowden: Possibly. Cory Lambert played 20 something plays against Virginia Tech when Barry Richardson went down in the first quarter. Thomas Austin played 20 snaps at center. He gives us some flexibility. Bobby Hutchinson played a lot against Virginia Tech.

How do you like the leadership on this team? And is that an overrated aspect of a football program?
Bowden: I think it's highly important. Not all the time, but a lot of the time it's most effective if you have a lot of seniors. They are more experienced. They usually make better decisions and can lead younger guys. They have been in difficult positions in games. Phillip Merling, James Davis, Rashaad Jackson and Cullen Harper ... they have done a good job along with our seniors.

You've talked about finishing strong in years past when you've turned things around after a slow start. Is that something you point to with this year's team given your track record of doing that?
Bowden: I bring it out because that's been more of our mode of operation. Last year we didn't. We need to recapture that. We lost some of that luster last year when we did that. But we try to appeal a little bit to that. It's something the players can grab onto from a mental standpoint every day during practice.

You showed a good bit of spread against Virginia Tech, is that likely to be more prevalent in the offense given your offensive line play this season?
Bowden: Last year at this time we couldn't line up and throw the ball consistently to win a football game. This year we've worked on that very hard to show that we can do it. I don't think there is any doubt we are better in that area and not as productive running the ball. I think that will definitely help us (this year). We lost to Maryland last year when we couldn't throw the ball downfield and we struggled doing it against N.C. State as well. It should help us.

You've talked about knowing what it takes to keep a team up. Isn't it harder and harder to keep college kids focused with ipods, cell phones, ADD, and other distractions?
Bowden: Some of it is that. Some of it is parity with competition. Cell phones has made family members accessible. After our pregame meal, cell phones go away. We had a guy right before my talk Friday night (before Virginia Tech) that was trying to straighten out who in his family was getting what tickets and trying to straighten that kind of stuff out.

You were talking about injuries. Did that apply to James Davis as well?
Bowden: I didn't include him in that group. Had we played last week he would have played. The other guys would not have played. I did not include him in that group.

Is he healthier than he's been earlier this year?
Bowden: Yeah he's going to be healthier than he's been. The fact that we didn't have a game Saturday is going to help.

Are you concerned that your guys will look past Central Michigan given they are so far away from another conference?
Bowden: Well they won 10 games last year and they had two guys that were drafted higher than a lot of our guys. We are going to prepare to bring our A-game. We anticipate brining our A-game. Just because they aren't in our area geographically. Every team now across the country, the opponent gets your attention.

What kind of attitude are you sensing from James and C.J. considering how they've been shutdown the last two games?
Bowden: A little frustration on their part. That's fairly normal considering the types of seasons they had last year. Recievers can be like that. Other players can certainly be like that. We have to find other ways to help get them more productive.

Have you had to sit them down and talk to them about their lack of production and about the direction of things from here?
Bowden: We've mentioned some things like that to the team overall. Maybe coach Powell has mentioned something more like that to them privately.

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