Bowden Monday Teleconference

Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden held his weekly teleconference with the media Monday afternoon.

Among the topics of discussion were naturally, the concern of the fans who have been in a meltdown mode since Saturday's 20-17 upset loss to Maryland:

Is it easier or harder to deal with speculation about your job again this year?
Bowden: It's the same on keeping your team. Different players, but they are the same age. They live in the same environment. Dealing with players is not different. As a coach you're disappointed that you let 80,000 people down. It's hard to describe what that's like. Coaching is pretty much a pretty big burden. There is a bunch of people disappointed. The players, they're the same, different age, different players.

Do you consider any changes at the quarterback position or with the play-calling based on what you've seen so far this season?
Bowden: No. The only discussion has been, we went with personnel this morning, as go through and break down every single position and we do every one, including quarterback. [Comparing Cullen Harper to Will Proctor in 2006] And the quarterback position is - this is little bit different player. He's already had a season of experience under his belt. I think with Will, early season, I stuck with him, and we were 7-1 and ranked in the top 10. I didn't have any problems staying with him at that time. This is a little bit different in that regard. Not at this point in time. I'm just thinking about how the game went.

Don't you think you should have gotten the ball downfield more in the passing game Saturday with the weapons you have on offense?
Bowden: The biggest thing was getting behind the chains in passing situations and not producing when you had to. First half we moved the ball real well and I didn't hear anybody complaining about us moving the ball then. As we evaluate tape, if that seems to be the problem then I'd address it. I look at penalties and putting us in long situations and those are hard to convert.

What about the running game? You ran it well early then abandoned it for most of the second half?
Bowden: If you look at how the game transpired, would I like to have run it more? Yes. We ran the ball five out of the first six plays of the game but if you look at the penalties and when we got them I'd like to see how [somebody else] would call plays. And even the last drive we were 50-50.

Did you see what happened with Xavier Dye's penalty?
Bowden: Late hit.

A lot of fans are looking at this as an indictment of the entire program. How do you respond to that?
Bowden: I believe every team from our division had two losses and one team had three [when those teams made it to the ACC Championship game]. We had a conference loss [Saturday] and that puts behind the 8-ball but all we can do is go out there and win the next one. That's all we can do. The indictment on the program, that kind of thing, that would be something y'all would write about.

Are you concerned at all about the players' mentality after two tough losses like this early in the season?
Bowden: That's always a job of a coach is to motivate. In the 10 years I've been here surely that's not the first time this has happened. You have to motivate them after a loss. That's what coaches do and it's not easy. There's a lot of disappointment in this building and a lot out of it.

Given that you had three players lead the league in the ACC Preseason Player of the Year voting, is it fair to say your team is underachieving?
Bowden: Well one of the concerns in going in, is that it's going to take a little while for our offensive line to produce. I think y'all have to make that evaluation.

Have you made coaching changes in years past during the season and are you considering any changes right now based on the production of your team through five games?
Bowden: I have made coaching changes before. But things start going through your mind when you aren't producing but that has not happened this year.

Can you give Rob Spence a vote of confidence?
Bowden: Yes. Look at his track record here.

You said during the summer after getting your extension last December, in a joking fashion almost, that the pressure was on the players this year. Is that still the same case right now?
Bowden: There's pressure on the head coach at Clemson every single year and every single game. There's pressure on the coach every single game. Marshall game to open my career.

No, the question was referring to pressure you keep your job?
Bowden: I surely don't worry too much about that. That's an administrative decision. Those are my bosses. Not for me. We've played five games out of 12. After five games I can't think about stuff like that. I'm trying to correct mistakes and win the next game.

Has the backlash from the fans been more difficult to deal with than previous seasons at this point?
Bowden: That's the arena y'all live in and I don't know. I came in and graded every snap on special teams offense and defense just like I do every Sunday. The longer I've been here, I'm not naive and I understand the disappointment but here you have to go to work.

The atmosphere in the locker room Saturday, was it typical for a loss?
Bowden: Players- they work extremely hard and they are pretty much disappointed with all losses. I can't ever remember being in the dressing room and not being majorly disappointed. They've worked since January, for eight and a half months now to win the game. Every locker room is disappointed after a loss.

What's the game plan for this week as far as fixing what your team isn't doing right through the first half of the season?
Bowden: The biggest one is the mistakes that we made that put us into the passing situations [long yardage]. That's the biggest priority. We had more than we normally have had in one game.

So there are no problems your system right now in your estimation?
Bowden: I see problems in the system- the ones I just mentioned.

You're satisfied with the jobs your assistant coaches are doing?
Bowden: Yes, but disappointed in the results, because of what we just talked about. If we don't fumble the punt and give them that field goal, and then we threw the screen under center and it was picked off by a blitzing safety which hadn't happened in four years of this offense- those were six points. Right now I'm more concerned with correcting those things. Maryland is a good team. If we don't have those penalties, then we don't fumble that punt, then I'm not answering these questions.

What do you say to the fans that have given up on you?
Bowden: We've got to play 12 games and we've played five. I don't want to minimize the disappointment but we've played five games out of 12. You got to shake the disappointment as quick as you can. That's what we tend to do here.

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