Tuesday Notebook: Spence Goes Off

CLEMSON – Since Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden meets with the media every Tuesday afternoon, offensive coordinator Rob Spence handles the mini press conference after that day's practice. On this particular one, he was asked a myriad of questions and he give out some interesting answers.

*The success of the Tigers in the second half with the spread offense against Virginia Tech has sparked beliefs Clemson will start to employ it much more in its game plan because of the massive difficulties running the ball.

"I think we need to mix that," Spence said of the four and five receiver sets. "It's something that I like to do, something that I miss doing and it's an exciting part of our offense. But we have to be able to mix our personnel groupings and use that as efficiently and effectively as we can.

"But it will keep some good players on the bench. I don't know if it's in our best interest to just go four wide. I'd still like to get C.J. (Spiller) in there with James (Davis), which we can still do at times. And our tight ends are good football players that in some cases give us match ups that we couldn't get with receivers."

* The offensive line has been a sore spot all season, but Spence made comparisons to the same line that he was dealt in 2005, which offensive tackle Barry Richardson was a sophomore and the four players that graduated last year were juniors.

"My first year here, our offensive line jelled as the season progressed and we got very confident offensively, especially in regard to running the ball, because confidence developed," he said. "Obviously I have great faith and hope that's going to happen.

"The more we can get the same five guys out there working together, the better they're going to play together. The ability of our offense will evolve around what those do players and how they improve. And having the same five guys out there is a real important component of that."

However, with the season half over and with so much tinkering being done on the line, the season could come to an end before the jelling takes place and Spence and company will find themselves in the exact same predicament next year as four starters graduate this year.

That doesn't concern Spence in the least.

"Today's challenges and problems are far more important than what lies ahead," he said. "I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I only know what I've got on my plate today. I'm more concerned with what's about to happen and the task at hand than what might be out there in the future. So, I really don't think about it.

"You're always building toward the future. But in the world I live in, it's a one-day-at-a-time proposition. It's a one play-at-a-time proposition. You muster all the energy you can for the day that you have ahead of you and that's quite enough for me and for right now."

* And finally, Spence was asked his thoughts on all the criticism by fans and media concerning the problems with the Tigers. He gave a very long answer, which is unlike him. So because of that, here is the transcript of his entire, uninterrupted answer.

Do yourself a favor and read it all. It's quite interesting:

"My reaction is that my eyes are on the goal of this game," he said. "I don't read the papers, I don't open my email, I don't open any letters without sniffing them first and seeing if there might be some poisonous substance on them.

"I tend to ignore the outside world. It's really the only way I can function and I dig really, really deeply into my bible right now. I continue to pray for direction and try to continue to coach as hard as I possibly can and to honor God with whatever I do and not worry about what's outside.

"These people present absolutely no impact on what I'm going to do and what these players are going to do. Criticism only makes it more difficult for us to be able to perform at our ability and to coach and to do all the things we have to do. No one likes to be criticized. There's not one human being out there that likes it or enjoys it.

"All I can say is if you coach or if you play and you're in that arena, you open yourself up to that. And it's something that I wish every single person would experience in their lifetime, to be able to go into an arena like that stadium and to be able to fail and succeed and to feel both at the same time and understand what it's like when all those eyes are on you and you're doing what you do and there's always the risk of failure, especially in leadership.

"There's no such thing as zero risk in leadership. There's potential for failure anytime that you walk into that stadium and there's also a potential for success. You have to learn to live with both the praise and criticism as a player and a coach. And that's what we try to teach our players, so when they walk out of here and into the real world, where they will experience both and have to live through the good and the bad of life. Unfortunately, that's world we live in."

QUICK HITS: Apparently all the talk about Bowden handling most of the play calling in the second half is just that – talk. When pulled to the side and asked about it, he told CUTigers.com that he called zero plays during the game. He said he only told the staff when to go for it on fourth down and when to abandon the running game. …

Davis told CUTigers.com that he is 100 percent healthy and that it's the best he felt all season. He also said that he's not going to take anymore pain or cortisone shots, regardless of how his shoulder feels.

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