After last year's 34-10 season opening loss to Alabama, the cover of Sports Illustrated featured Clemson's defense from a not so flattering perspective. Crimson Tide running back Glen Coffee's was pictured as he was powering his way past three Clemson defenders, two were on the ground and one was hanging on for dear life.
Embarrassed in front of a national television audience, Bowers and his teammates left Atlanta red-faced. The expectations many had for 2008 were dashed by that one game and that one magazine cover.
"We were kind of embarrassed from the Alabama game," Bowers said. "We weren't on top. We were getting drug… we focused in and set goals for ourselves to get stronger and be a better run support team."
With the help of defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, Bowers is ready to be put in position and in favorable mismatches to be successful. Ones that could allow see him dragging quarterbacks across the ACC
From his strong-side end position, Bowers is excited about lining up over opponents' tight end, rather than the tackle.
"I'm 275 pounds. Most tight ends are 250. I would consider that a mismatch with my size against his size," he said. "I can be more aggressive than actually going up against a tackle that weights more than me."
A more aggressive Bowers could mean a nastier Tiger defensive line. After registering 15 quarterback pressures and just one sack a year ago, he's anticipating a more productive 2009.
Against a Middle Tennessee team that will line up almost exclusively in shotgun and look to throw quickly, sacks may be hard to come by on Saturday. But Bowers has faith in his defensive backs, believing that they'll be locking down receivers long enough for he and his fellow lineman to apply pressure.
"That's going to allow us a few more seconds to get there," he said. "If he throws it quick, I'm sure our DBs will break on the ball and make good plays also."
After only 14 sacks in 2008, more sacks in 2009 has become another source of motivation.
Bowers believes Clemson's caliber of defensive tackles should allow for he and Ricky Sapp, one or the other to have 14 sacks this year.
"We shouldn't have 14 total out of 12 games with 11 people (always) on the field," Bowers said. "That's just unacceptable. We're better than that."
Motivated Bowers aims for redemption
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