Tommy Bowden Press Conference

CLEMSON - The Tigers' 10th-year head coach looks ahead to the N.C. State game this Saturday in Death Valley.

Tommy what are your thoughts on the ACC and how it's taken another downturn this year? Any comments on that?
Bowden: No I've got my own problems here. I got enough problems here to worry about. That usually takes care of itself in one year or through the course of years.

Are you surprised by how bad the league has been? Maryland losing to Middle Tennessee State and games like that?
Bowden: No I'm surprised by what happened in our first game.

Have you ever had to play this many freshmen on your offensive line?
Bowden: That's something I haven't had to do in my career as a head coach for 12 years. It's something that doesn't happen very often. There a number of things you have to take under consideration. Their No. 97 is Ricky Sapp-type pass rusher. It affects how you prepare. But injuries are a part of the game. We'll take the busses around there at 12:01 and go down there and play. Maybe we'll have some guys that can pick up the slack.

You mentioned after the game you'd like to see Cullen Harper play a little better … any additional thoughts there?
Bowden: We came out of The Citadel game with a lot of guys needing to play better. What were his stats? 14-of-18? There's nothing there that's a great concern.

C.J. Spiller and James Davis had big games against N.C. State last year. Is there any carry over to what you can do against them this year?
Bowden: They are a little bit of a different team. The players are playing with more confidence and intensity. I'm sure they've bought into Coach O'Brien's program. More confidence and a higher level of intensity. Other than that- we caught them in a time last year where there was probably some doubt and reservation with you move to a new coach. I know the South Carolina game they turned it over a bunch offensively and they got their quarterback hurt early.

What are the characteristics of a Tom O'Brien-coached team?
Bowden: They are very sound. They don't take a lot of chances. They tackle well. His attention to detail- class attendance and graduation. That's the things I've noticed about him. And that we've lost to him twice during his time at B.C.

What have you seen from their defense on film? Zone? Man?
Bowden: They do a combination of both. They do a combination of zone blitz, where they play three deep three under. They'll play man. Mostly man-free with no middle safety. They mix it up pretty good. They are very productive with their zone defense.

Your thoughts on Russell Wilson as N.C. State's starting quarterback?
Bowden: He can beat you with his arm and legs. It allows you more flexibility on offense and creates more problems on defense. You have to account for your quarterback as a tailback, which traditionally you don't do. It presents more problems for you defensively and allows you to do less things.

What's the latest with Ricky Sapp?
Bowden: I believe the ACC has gone to a policy on injuries where we will comment on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He's done very little in practice.

Are you surprised by the angst of fans at this point in the season?
Bowden: Like I said, you work in a cave around here. I wouldn't know what you were talking about unless [SID] Tim [Bourret] tells me. I've been here 10 years now … I'm not surprised. Like I said, the initial game I was disappointed. Surely I would expect the fans to be disappointed as well.

Any update on Brian Linthicum?
Bowden: He will transfer. Lack of playing time. He's been released. Don't know where he'll transfer.

Talk about freshman tackle Antoine McClain and what you've seen from him early on.
Bowden: Real good. Been real pleased with his progress. I would see him get more playing time as the season progresses. He's a big body and the offensive line is one of the toughest positions to play as a true freshman. There is no margin for error. We've been real pleased with his progress and he'll play more as we go through the season.

You said the team didn't live it up to the hype before Alabama, have you changed how you've prepared for games after that based on what you've done in past seasons?
Bowden: You handle the situation pretty much the same every year. We've never really been ranked that high in the preseason early. We talked about how important it was to play with the bull's eye on us. We did the same thing But the preparation for this week's game is pretty much the same with what we've done this week. That's one of the hardest things to predict- how the team will respond mentally.

Will that Alabama loss stick with you longer than most?
Bowden: It really can't. If my team senses that, that was just one loss of 12. If the team can wash it out and go out and work hard and get better. There's a reason some teams separate. Some teams respond better than other. You have to wash it out really quick and that's what we try to do. Sometimes I allude to it. But pretty much from a staff standpoint, and a team standpoint, we have washed it out. This is our first conference game and that's most important.

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