Up Close With Jeff Bowden

FSU offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden chatted with the media Tuesday. He covered a variety of topics, ranging from the play of quarterback Adrian McPherson to the unselfishness of Nick Maddox to the effort of 'Nole receivers to the pressure surrounding Saturday's homecoming against UNC. "This game scares me, because to me it reminds me of -- everything's kind of like it was when we played N.C. State last year. There's an ACC title at stake. There's a lot at stake. There's a BCS bowl," he said.

Do you feel pretty good about Adrian McPherson's play against Georgia Tech?

"Yeah. I think mostly the way I felt after the game turned out to be accurate. I didn't feel like, early in the game, we allowed him to be comfortable. There were times we were getting a lot of guys out instead of protecting him. He was getting a lot of pressure. Some of it was to do with Georgia Tech. They had a real good blitz package, and spared none of it. We saw it all. Some of it was we were rotating Matt Heinz and Bobby Meeks. Bobby eventually settled in and stayed most of the game, and played pretty solid. Later on, we bought him a little protection. He's standing back there -- like the bomb to Cro, we really protected him. He had time to sit back there and let him run, and eventually he ran by the guy. I think the two sideline routes on our side that he really missed were two that you wish he had hit. That's picking. His decision making was pretty good. We had one sack that was just a total whiff by the fullback in a protection. That was on him before he could escape. Overall, we were really pleased with him."

On one of the routes, he threw to Talman Gardner but had Nick Maddox open underneath for a first down. Is that an instance of bad decision-making?

"He could have, but he had Talman. Just overthrew him. What it was, was it was a post corner call to Talman, and that's his first look. He saw it and took it. If he'd have waited, that corner would have sank. I guess it would have looked like he threw it into double coverage. I thought he fine with his decision, had he hit it. Now the easier one would have been to take the low, but he took the first thing he saw. He didn't have to go to his second or third receiver. If it would have been covered and he'd have forced it, then you can say, 'Dump it off.' That was one of the two where he just took it and threw it over his head and out of bounds."

This is two games in a row that you've fallen behind. That's not ideal for a new starter. Have you spoken to him to keep him steady?

"I don't talk to him like that. I don't talk to him in any way to make him cautious. I don't want to do that. That'll come, sometime. Hopefully that point is the fourth quarter. That'll come if it's the fourth quarter and we need to have a drive. I don't feel like that's something that he's not aware of. He knows when we've gotta have something, and when he doesn't. I don't think I have to press him on when we need to make plays."

How has Nick Maddox helped the offense?

"He did last week. To rush like he did against those guys, because they were really good against the run. Once again, while we didn't break the long one, he had some key 11, 12, 13 yard runs that were important at times in that ballgame. At the end of the game, the time we were able to run off the clock was big. I wish we could have run it all the way off. There were some big plays in that game. We had a 3rd and 7, and we called his number and he made it. He made enough yardage to get a first down."

Have you ever had a more unselfish player?

"I just brought that up in front of the whole offense yesterday. I pointed Nick out for that. A guy that came in as highly touted as all these other guys. Top running back in South (North) Carolina, top player in South (North) Carolina, all this, all that. Moved to receiver, had injuries, moved back to running back, goes into his senior year, he's playing behind Greg Jones. We're getting him playing time at the slot receiver position again -- never said a word. I promise you I pointed that out. He has been as unselfish. Warrick Dunn was like that. He was a lot like that. Never, ever complained."

Do you know when you'll get Willie Reid back?

"I don't think it'll be this ballgame."

Do you think he'll be back before the season ends?

"Yeah. We'll get him back, I just don't know how soon."

Is the next option Leon Washington?

"It'd be Leon, and then Clayton. We might look at Torrance Washington in some one-backs. He's kind of like a Greg Jones."

Is Torrance healthier now?

"He seems to be. He's not in playing shape right now. He sat out too long. We did agilities yesterday and he just died. Every drill he was sucking wind."

Did you get away from the run game too early against Georgia Tech?

"No. We thought what Daryl was calling -- our three-wide set with two tailbacks -- we saw a lot of things we liked in that set. I did not think that they would bring as much heat against it. They hadn't brought that much heat all the time. When they played N.C. State, they got after Rivers -- which I think had a lot to do with them beating them. We knew in the back of our minds that this is it. If they're ever going to bring the heat, this is it. We had to find out, because still saw a lot of things that we liked with three wides on the field. We gave it a shot. We couldn't protect it, we couldn't get him enough time, and we figured it was better to sprinkle it in later. When you have the two-play drive where you hit Nick and then you hit Anquan, that was spread. We slipped it in there, and we caught them in a not-blitzing mode."

When you came back from last year's North Carolina game, have you ever had a feeling like that? Certainly the turnovers had a lot to do with it.

"That was the only thing on my mind after that game. Because it's a humiliating feeling to lose by that much. It just felt like everything was crumbling downhill, as far as the turnovers. Chris would make a big scramble run that would have been a first down and get the ball stripped way downfield. We hit a long touchdown to Javon and they called it back -- we still haven't found the holding penalty. That's the thing you can't prepare for. We can put a game plan together, and we practice ball security, but they did a great job stripping the ball that day."

How much did that loss affect the team?

"That was the first loss, wasn't it?"

But to lose so big to a team like that, isn't that a scarring event?

"No. It was pretty cut-and-dried. If you turn the ball over six times, you're going to lose. Where I got nervous is we repeated it against Miami. You don't have a game like that and think you'll do it again. I thought that was the first time. Those things aren't going to happen again. Then you turn around and do it again against Miami. Now you're worried. I can't say, after the North Carolina game, I was worried."

Saturday, Tech tried to strip A.D. What does he do that prevents it?

"I don't know. He's going to run stadiums, because he leaves the ball hanging out there. We watch film of other quarterbacks that scramble, and they've got the ball way out here. Some guys just have a feel when people are around them. He did seem to just get it in when somebody was coming. Whether that's just feel or whatever, I can't explain it. They came after it. They tried to chop and knock it loose, and he never dropped it. We'll continue to get him to keep that thing tucked when he does try to run."

If Montrae can't go against North Carolina, who will start?

"It'll be Bobby Meeks, and then Matt Heinz."

Will you play both?

"Bobby, I believe, settled in to being the guy to start out at that position."

Is this the best blocking team, among your skilled guys, that you've had? Quan and Talman especially seem to love to block.

"I think they've been real unselfish in handling that part of their deal, their responsibility in the running game. Anquan, starting out the year, was the most dominating blocker I've had in nine years. He was just maul guys. He was, because he was getting about a penalty a ballgame. I liked his effort so much -- it was one of those things where if he wasn't giving so much of himself I'd have made a bigger issue of it."

You've had some receivers that didn't enjoy blocking quite as much.

"We've had some pretty bad blockers. Snoop wasn't the most dominating blocker. Not at 153 pounds. (laughs) These guys just want to win. They realize that running is just a part of the deal right now."

How much of a role has that played?

"Any time you dump the ball off to somebody, we should be looking people up. They're giving good effort. They're playing hard."

This will be the first time A.D. has had a chance to start a game at home. How much do you feel like he'll be more in a comfort zone?

"You hope. I hope he'll relax. I want to see progress, to see improvement. I want him to make plays. This game scares me, because to me it reminds me of -- everything's kind of like it was when we played N.C. State last year. There's an ACC title at stake. There's a lot at stake. There's a BCS bowl. There's still the possibility of 10 wins. It starts this Saturday. We want to play good, because we're at home."

Nole Digest Top Stories