Bowden is far more interested in improved consistency and more big defensive plays when 11th-ranked FSU squares off with Clemson Thursday night in Bowden Bowl IV.
"I never have been much of a swagger man as far as teaching it and talking it. In fact, I can hardly imagine what a swagger is on the football field," Bowden said Wednesday during the ACC teleconference. "We just like to get better blocking and better tackling back and better execution.
"Do you know the big difference in our team right now and those teams that won national championships and had so much success. The big thing is consistency and I can even go one step further and talk about something bigger - big plays are not coming defensively like they did in the past with the Derrick Brooks', the Deion Sanders', the Terrell Buckleys, the Andre Wadsworths, the Corey Simons.
"All we need is one more big play last week and we win the game. We are just not getting that right now, although we had a couple of big plays last week. We are not getting them when we need them to pull out these close games. It's too early in the year to say it's not going to happen. But it's early enough, we've seen enough to say, 'Hey, it better start happening soon.' "
Soon, as in against the Tigers at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Following four straight victories, including three routs, FSU went into rain-soaked Louisville last Thursday was beaten 26-20 in overtime by the unranked Cardinals. The 'Noles have had to regroup in a hurry.
The matchup of Bowdens - Papa Bowden for FSU and son Tommy Bowden for Clemson -- is the fourth in NCAA Division I-A history, with the previous three coming in this series. FSU has dominated the all-time series, winning 13 of 15 meetings, including 10 straight dating to Clemson's 34-23 victory in 1989.
Bobby Bowden says the upcoming showdown against his son just might be the most difficult of the series.
"I like it and I don't like it. This year here I think I dislike it more than any game we've had," Bowden said.
"When we played him for the first time in '99, we were facing the possibility of a national championship, and we had to have it. The last two years we have lost games when we played 'em and they were just games. Now this year for the first time, I don't like it for the reason you don't want to play your son. And both of us need to win the ballgame. We just lost a ballgame. I got to win this one. I got to have this one. Yet, Tommy's got to have it too. Both of us can't win it. One of us is going to lose. He's a member of my family, but I ain't going to help him. And I know he ain't going to help me."
Bowden also continued to defend quarterback Chris Rix. Rix has struggled with his decision-making in the pocket, often running too quickly. Teammates also have said Rix needed to be more patient and let pass plays develop. Still, Rix is averaging 231.8 yards passing in 16 career games and has thrown a touchdown pass in 15 games. He also has passed for more than 200 yards in 11 of his last 13 games.
"Look at all the other quarterbacks in the country and see if they ever pull it down at the wrong time," Bowden said.
"It's blown so much out of proportion because some of our kids mentioned it. Again, they wouldn't even know what's going on if they hadn't heard a coaching telling him. It's nothing abnormal. It's nothing out of line. And it's nothing that can't be corrected. And it's nothing that I think probably all young quarterbacks are faced with - and that's when to pull it down and run it and when not to. I think he's making progress in that regard.
"I think too much being put on what happened last week (interception against the Cards in overtime). I think you have to wait for pretty weather and pretty conditions to say he's that good or that bad."