TIGERS FEELING BETTER? Sunday's teleconference began with Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden being asked if he felt any better about his team overall after a 54-0 drubbing of S.C. State Saturday in Death Valley.
"Well, yeah, because we got one more win," he said. "I think we played better as a team. We made less mistakes. It looked like we tackled better. Looked like we did better with missed assignments.
"Maryland's skill will probably be better. I think we came out there with a pretty good frame of mind. I don't know if that's an improvement from last week over N.C. State because it was a lesser opponent"
Bowden included a number of areas he'd like to see improvement on, despite Saturday's easy win.
"Thomas [Austin] had one bad snap, [Ben] Ramsey had one bad snap," he said. "We didn't have any fumble. Interceptions- we'll have to improve in that area. We want to improve in every area that we can."
SHORT-YARDAGE CONCERNS STILL IN PLAY AS WELL: After struggling on several occasions to convert in short-yardage situations the last few weeks, Bowden said he is concerned, especially with the schedule getting more difficult during the next four weeks.
"Through four games that would be one of the areas we have struggled the most. That is an area of concern- short yardage and goal line," he said.
One of the problems, of course, has been the offensive line, where injuries to Chris Hairston and Barry Humphries have forced multiple players into significant roles.
Bobby Hutchinson moved from a player/coach back to a fulltime player and several redshirt freshmen have had to start the past two games as well. In addition, David Smith, the starter at right guard the past two games, also now has a sprained ankle and his status for Saturday's game against the Terps is up in the air.
Bowden said his second team offensive line needs to improve as the season goes on.
"They are getting better. Antoine [McClain] is a true freshman and that was his most significant playing time. Ben Ramsey- he was our fourth center. We were working Jamarcus Grant at tackle. If we can get Hairston is back maybe we can get Jamarcus back," he said.
"We definitely need work with those second-team guys."
NO QB CONTROVERSY: Internet message boards have sprung to life since Saturday's game with discussion that back-up QB Willy Korn should begin to see playing time after another solid performance in mop-up duty against S.C. State.
Korn completed 7-of-7 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in the second half Saturday. He also rushed four times for 20 yards and another score. For the season, he is now 14-of-18 for 156 yards in two games.
Meanwhile, Harper now has thrown four interceptions in two games, after having throw just six all last season.
During Sunday's teleconference, Bowden was asked a number of questions from reporters about his thoughts on the situation and not surprisingly, the Tigers' 10th-year head coach said he isn't buying into it.
"There's separation enough where we are pleased with what Cullen is doing," Bowden said. "There is separation between him and other guy [Willy Korn]."
When asked if there had been any discussion among members of his coaching staff on whether or not Korn should see the field in a non-blowout game, he responded by saying, "There's been no discussion. Not by us. Maybe on the Internet but not by our staff."
He also denied that he wouldn't put Korn in the game just to avoid a potential controversy, "I'm not worried about creating a controversy. I think last year at this time, Cullen was an unproven product [which is why there was discussion about playing two quarterbacks then]. We went into the season with that but when he kept performing at a high level [we stuck with Harper]."
CUTigers.com posed the question, "Is Harper playing at the same 'high level' he was this time a year ago through the first four games of 2008?"
Bowden responded by saying he needs to cut down on the number of interceptions but that he still has a high completion percentage.
Bowden later said of Harper, "He's been one of 85 players that need to improve."
LOOKING AHEAD: Clemson plays host to Maryland next weekend in Death Valley with kickoff set for noon on Raycom.
The Terps have won two games in a row, including a 35-27 win over No. 23 California last weekend and a 51-24 victory over Eastern Michigan. Morgan Green ran for two touchdowns and Chris Turner threw for 212 yards and two more scores for the Terps, who scored on nine of their 13 possessions.
"They've beat a ranked team," Bowden said. "Surely that gets our attention. California was a top 25 team and hopefully that will get our attention a little bit more."
Clemson defeated Maryland last season 30-17 in College Park, Md. but the Terps beat the Tigers in their last meeting in Death Valley in 2006, 13-12. The loss kept the Tigers from playing in the ACC Championship game.
"I'm hoping this team doesn't need that type of motivation with what has happened already this year [in regards to the 2006 loss]," he said. "I think that was later in the season, and this is so early in the season. But surely it's the same significance if not more.
"But I would think we wouldn't need to be reminded about it. Had we won that, we would have maybe gone [to the ACC Championship game. It's a very very important game."
INJURY UPDATES: The following statement was released regarding David Smith and Buster Hunter, who both sprained ankles in Saturday's game. "They both have sprained ankles and we'll address those more after practice," said Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret.
UPDATED RANKINGS: After Saturday's win, Clemson moved up to No. 19 in the USA Today/Coaches' Poll Sunday and to No. 20 in the AP poll. Clemson started the year ranked No. 9 in both polls before losing to Alabama, 34-10.
Bowden Sunday Teleconference
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