Bobby's Corner II

In this second of two installments, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden chats about his team's performance against Notre Dame. The Seminoles, who have moved up to No. 3 in both major polls, are expected to be ranked third behind Oklahoma and Southern Cal in today's installment of the Bowl Championship Series rankings. FSU also turns its attention to Saturday's road game at struggling Clemson, which was upended by Wake Forest last weekend.

It looked like the last couple of games you're freshmen and sophomores are getting more and more time.

"That's true. I think it reflects back on the recruiting that John Lilly has done. It's funny. The last two years we've lost more games than we had the previous years. So, everybody just assumes your recruiting is terrible. It ain't either. We play a lot of sophomores out there. We play a lot of redshirt freshmen out there. And they are playing winning football. It's like (A.J.) Nicholson, he's a dadgum sophomore, a true sophomore, and he's playing as good as any linebacker we got. And (Sam) McGrew is playing good. And Ernie Sims is playing good. We played 56 people last night in the first quarter. That's counting punt team, kickoff team, return team and all that. That's a lot of people."

Getting back to playing Tommy, does it make it tougher knowing he's getting more and more heat at Clemson?

"It makes it very tough. It makes it tough on me and him. Yes, you want to see him succeed. I remember I have another son on my staff. I ain't interested in feeding either one of them. I want them both to make it. I mentioned this about three years ago I said, this is really fun when we started this series. Father-Son. It's really fun. But about three years ago it ceased being fun. Why? Because one of us has to lose."

When looking at Notre Dame, did you see something that would allow you to throw long?

"We worked on our game plan the other night, Friday night. We practiced all week on things we think would be good. I will be honest with you, when we were practicing I am thinking they shut us down last year and they got seven of them back and I don't know if we can block them. That's the kind of feeling I had. Then we had our game plan Friday night, when we work on every situation we can think of. And I don't ever remember one of our coaches mention we got to go deep. We got to go deep. We were looking at drags, we were looking at square ins and corners and outs. Anyway, Jeffrey and Daryl and them call the plays and they decided to go deep. You know what? I didn't call any of them. That was exactly where we beat them and I was sure happy."

What are some of the qualities that Tommy has that mirror you?

"Tommy and I, our personalities are very much alike. I know our demeanor is a lot alike. Our desire to win. All of that stuff is very much alike. Terry has that do. And Jeffrey has that to. I think Tommy is more like me in personality. That's what everybody says. His mother says that. People who know us all say that. And so anyway, Tommy's team kind of reminds me of Georgia Tech. They just blow a team out. They blew Georgia Tech out, then the next week get beat pretty good. If you see Wake Forest play, you can see how that can happen. You saw it happen to N.C. State, which was a big surprise. When they get to a rolling, you know how they did us. We've been holding everybody to one touchdown, 10 points, and they get 24 points against us. You can see how it happens."

Have you spoken to Tommy?

"I hadn't time but I will be talking to him pretty soon."

Jeff Bowden said after the game that maybe he last year (against Notre Dame) he was a little timid (play calling). He said he wanted to make sure he called enough long passes yesterday. How much of that is Jeff growing up and having more confidence?

"Again, you are probably looking at a guy with another year of experience of doing this thing. He hasn't been the coordinator here, this is his third year. I would say it's another year of experience and realizing what you have to do to win and then spotting a weakness and picking on it. I was very pleased. Most of them were simple take offs. They failed to cover them sometimes."

The last two games your team has played like they know they have a chance (national title). It seems like they sense this opportunity and are going to go out and play like they know it.

"The thing that makes it possible is your defense. When you know that your defense can hold people, then you don't have to panic on offense. What causes panic on offense is when your defense can't hold people. The last couple of years we've had a hard timing doing that. People would take eight-minute drives, 12-play drives. Like Iowa State did last year. Like North Carolina State did. Now you get the ball and you panic. You are behind and you are afraid if you don't score, they are going to get to score again and they will be two ahead of you. Now this year our defense has held people when we couldn't get anything going. We can't get anything going, we can't get anything going and then, all of a sudden, bam, bam, we get something going. And your defense has been holding them all that time. Now that's a different thing. That's what Miami thrived on. Offense always gets the credit. Or the offense always gets the discredit. Well, that's not true It's the defense. Boy, our defense has been playing winning football. I hope we can keep it up I think that is true and again I think it comes because of what the defense is doing. I think it affects the whole ball club."

Can you talk about Michael Boulware and what he means to this team.

"No. 1, he brings a lot of athletic ability to the team. He could have played wide receiver at Florida State. He's that good. He could play tight end at Florida State. He could play safety at Florida State if he started as a freshman. He's playing linebacker, kind of like a strong safety. He can probably play defensive end. His athletic ability really stands out. Now, his leadership ability is even beyond that. He has always been the spokesman for the defense. If the boys on defense wanted to tell me something, they would send Boulware. He's one of the first guys I put on the Unity Council because I know he doesn't mind expressing the feelings of the team if we have any kind of issue."

Beyond family reasons, are there other reasons why you think Clemson should be patient with Tommy?

"When you say Clemson, I am talking about all schools. I don't think Duke was fare to (Carl) Franks. I don't think that was fair. He had four more games. What if he stayed there and they won three of them. They would extend him another seven-year contract probably. But they cut him right in the middle of the year. That's what I mean by patience. Is he doing as good as they want? No. Is he winning as much as they want? No. But, again, you bring another guy in, you start all over again. I don't coach up there. I don't know everything that does on up there. It's my son and I want him to do the best he can do. I know he wants to do the best he can do. Whatever happens he can handle it like a man, I know that."

Your defense has been able to get more three-and-outs recently.

"That's probably true per game. There are some people you can get out and some people you can't. I think early in the year there were times when we got them out of there pretty good. We might have gone through a span of three games where it was more difficult. So, that's something you have to measure per game. That's definitely a defensive goal when they walk out there. I hear them yelling it. But that's hard to do nowadays."

Talk about Chris Rix's long pass completion to P.K. Sam.

""If I was grading it, I would have to give him three different grades -- F, F, A..F was when he rolled back into the end zone and escaped that guy. He should have thrown the ball away. The other F was when the other guy was about to get him and he spun all the way around, spun all the way around -- turned his back to everybody - and ran out. I would have to give him an F there. But then when he runs to his left full speed and throws way back to his right and we catch it, I would give him an A. That's how fickle I am (laughing). That is him. It's amazing. He comes back out right before the half and sprints to his right and throws an interception right into the hands of one of their guys. That's what can happen on something like that. You don't coach it that way. It's a funny thing. He has does that so many times in his life, where he's doing something and you sitting there yelling, 'No, no, no, no...yeah."

Craphonso Thorpe had a superb game despite the emotion he was dealing with last week (grandfather passed away).

"I learned a lot about him this week. Lost his granddad unexpectedly. He had been with him the night before or maybe the night before that. His granddad felt good and his granddad was real close to him. So, they had the funeral Friday morning. Of course, we are going to depart Friday morning. And if he don't come with us, he's going to have to catch a commercial flight and he's not going to get in until 12 or one or two that night. I knew that was going to be a distract full. So I called him into my office and said, ‘Craphonso, you need to go up there with us. You think it would be okay with your parents if you could fly up there with us where you can honor your granddad this week' He said he was worried about his dad. It was his dad's dad. So I learned something. He said he was worried about his dad. He said, ‘Coach, if I come up there you don't have to worry about me being ready. If I walk out on that field, I promise you I will be ready.' When he told me that I said, ‘Son, that's all I want to hear. You go ahead and go to that funeral and we will see you up there when you get there.' I learned something about him right there. You are always afraid the state of mind won't be there. He won't be able to make the team meal. Won't be able to make the team meeting. He's going to miss something he should have heard. You just feel like there's no way he can come up there and perform like you hoped. And what did he do? He went up there and performed better than you can expect."


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