Bobby's Corner

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden admitted he wasn't in a good mood Sunday. No wonder. His Seminoles were outplayed a day earlier, losing to Clemson and son Tommy Bowden and falling from the national championship race for the third consecutive season. In his conference call with the media, Bowden covered a variety of topics, specifically the play of quarterback Chris Rix. Click here for all the details.

As you look at what happened against Clemson, how do you begin to fix what you saw?

"Well, Clemson really played a great ballgame. Their quarterback made all the throws. They had a good plan, and they took it to us. We just really took a good beating, everywhere. Up on the line of scrimmage, the secondary, the linebacker, the offensive line – they just beat us."

This weekend's game against N.C. State will have the ACC title on the line. With the national title out of reach, is that goal enough to focus your team?

"It's a game we've got to have. But we felt like we had to have that one last week, too. We've known every game, to stay in the national picture, you've got to win every game. We didn't do that last week. But we do have to come back and try to gather up and see where we broke down, see if we can't get back."

One of the places people look when a team plays as poorly as FSU did Saturday is at the quarterback position. Are you thinking of making a change, after Fabian Walker looked better in relief?

"No."

So you're comfortable with where you are with Chris Rix?

"No. I'm not happy with the way we played, but I'm not happy with either one of them. Chris definitely was not hot, but Fabian missed enough passes – he had four or five people open, and he bounced the ball to them. I can't see why I would make a change."

After the game, your players said you planned to run the ball against Clemson. What happened to change that strategy?

"Well, we couldn't get it going. They bashed it every time we would try to run. We'd make one yard, two yards, three yards. That's just not good enough. You had a team that was thoroughly embarrassed the week before, playing a team that had just played lights-out the week before. I think you had two different emotions, their emotion against ours. Theirs was much more fiery. They beat us to the punch on nearly everything."

At what point was Clemson too far ahead to justify running the ball?

"To be honest with you, it's the style of football nowadays. They must have blitzed half the time. We'd run the ball, and they'd have the blitz coming right up in there. If you'll look at them and see what they did, they threw on first down. We had to start throwing on first down. Now, if you throw on first down and miss it, now you've got to throw on second down, second-and-long. The game just dictated to take our running game away. Once you're ahead, you can do what you want to do. You don't have to score. If you're behind, you're forced to do some things maybe you don't want to do."

At this point in Chris' career, is it disappointing that he makes these mistakes, and doesn't seem to adjust well with any consistency?

"Definitely no consistency. I won't say he can't do it, but I'd say we didn't do it last night."

At the beginning of the season, you said that Chris was a "natural born leader." That doesn't seem to show up so much in these losses. Can you discuss that?

"That was probably permeating through our whole football team, not just one man."

You said that you weren't pleased Fabian's play, but he seemed to improve as he got time in there. If Chris were to struggle this week, did Fabian show you enough to make you willing to go to him a little earlier?

"I would think so. Fabian did some good things, but you've got to look at the whole film. I don't know why Chris had a hard time. We had a lot of miscommunication – I think the crowd noise, a lot of times, we couldn't hear. Our communication was bad, as you saw a lot. We ended up throwing the ball away a lot. I'd have to talk to the staff about what happened."

Even before this game, it seemed like Chris had gotten more criticism than any FSU player in recent memory. Can you remember a player that had faced as much criticism from FSU fans?

"I would imagine Berlin faces the same thing at Miami. I don't know. I don't keep up with other people. I imagine you could go to a lot of schools in the country, and you've got the same thing."

Is that frustrating to you, that fans found fault with him even after a 37-0 win the previous week?

"Well, they're going to find it with anybody. Any quarterback is not perfect."

The running game has obviously been hampered by eight-man fronts, but does Greg not seem totally healthy? Are you trying to get Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker in more?

"Well, we'd like to leave him in there. We had planned to play him more, going into this game. We'd planned his participation in this ballgame – we tried to – but we really were not making any yardage. They came up – I don't know how many safety blitzes they used. When people safety-blitz, you simply can't hardly get the guy. They did that a whole lot. It was like they were not going to let us have that running game. The inability to throw and catch consistently, was one reason we couldn't move it."

Is he still recovering from his knee injury? Do you see him still coming along slowly with that?

"I think he's coming along slowly. I think that's probably the best way to describe it – coming along slowly."

Last night, we saw a team set out to stop your run game – something we've seen all year. Why have teams chosen to do that against you?

"Everybody does it that way. We tried to do the same thing. Their quarterback, the way he does, he threw on first down, when we were up there trying to stop the run. When people are trying to stop the run, you have to throw on first down. You don't like to do that. Every time we tried to run on first down, they'd stuff it. We might make two yards, three yards, something like that, but you nearly have to throw it. Now, if your quarterback's not hot, you're in trouble."

Is that defense a reflection of teams' low opinion of your passing game?

"Well, it's probably been more consistent that inconsistent. I thought last night was the worst example of inconsistency. It's amazing – the week before, it happened to Clemson. Probably happened to Virginia Tech. Probably happened to Miami. Probably happened to all those teams that got beat yesterday."

It looked like Clemson's safety blitzes left the middle of the field open pretty often. Was your offense just unable to exploit that?

"Yes. We had people open – just couldn't get the ball to them."

Is it fair to say that the teams that have had success against you defensively are the teams that have tried to force you to be patient in the passing game, and that that's not the kind of game that fits Chris' strengths?

"Well, sometimes people would do that, and about the only stuff we hit were long passes. Long pass down the sidelines, the long pass for the touchdown. The long pass for a touchdown that was called back. They crowded us pretty good, too."

Do you remember a game where you only averaged 2.2 yards on first down?

"I hadn't kept up with stats on first down."

That's pretty low, isn't it?

"I would think so. It's going to force you to throw the ball."

When you're faced with a team that blitzes as much as they did, what would you expect to see happen in the passing game?

"Well, you have to be able to throw and catch the football. Your receivers have to get off of the press. If they would blitz you and play way off, you could just get quick stuff. But they blitz and play pretty tight. They mixed it up. We hit some on them, but they mixed it up enough that they kept us way off balance."

The problems throwing and catching – were the receivers at fault as much as the quarterbacks?

"They got free some. We hit some, we just didn't hit enough of them."

Have you received an official explanation on Darnell Dockett's ejection?

"I think he's okay. He didn't get into a fight. I don't know if you all saw the thing, studied it. The guy hit him from behind. He was trying to run to the ball. The guy unexpectedly hit him from behind. He wasn't expecting the hit he got. The same type of hit that he hit the guy. He got hit into a guy and did what anybody would do. He put his hands out to try to ward off the other guy. The other guy had his back to him. If you turned around and just looked at it, you would think Darnell just knocked him down. And yet he couldn't help it because he was looked from behind. I think when the officials look at it, again, it was not like he got into a fight."

When is the last time you feel like you have been this inept on offense?

"Maybe three quarters and a half against Georgia Tech."

At what point be would you start be dissatisfied with your quarterback play. You said you are still confident in Chris.

"To be honest with you, I am not confident in anybody right now."

A bright spot had to be the play of receiver Chauncey Stovall.

"That was a bright part there. He made some excellent catches and runs after it and ran some good routes. Just did some great things. Just wish the rest of us could have performed like that. We probably could have won the dadgum ball game. I couldn't tell it was coming. He has practiced well, but he practiced well last spring, too. It just happened to be his day and he was there to answer the bell."

How did your conversation with Tommy go following the game? And reflecting on the Bowden Bowl, what are your thoughts on the family aspects?

"Well, I think the best way I can express this thing is he probably needed that win more than I did. But my team needed more than his team did because we had more at stake. As far as your coaching profession is concerned, Tommy needed that win. I didn't mean for him to get it. I tried not to do anything to help him get it. Now, what did I say after the game? It was so loud, it was so loud that I couldn't even hear talking to him. I kidded him or something that his job might be good for another week now. Something like that. It was jovial."

Will Fabian get more reps in practice preparing in case Chris has another game like this?

"He has been getting more reps. He gets equal reps anyway. The guy who might get more reps is (Wyatt) Sexton."

You might actually look at him in a game if things continue like they did the other night?

"If we don't throw better than we did the other night."

Your defense gave up some long gains against Clemson. You haven't had a lot of that this year.

"We sure haven't. Like I say, I don't really think you can point at one position. The quarterback position is so obvious, so visible. I didn't see any position out there that didn't play as good as they had been playing. It all broke down at the same time. Again, I think you have to keep things in perspective. I haven't seen Miami's game against Virginia Tech. They probably had the same problem. I hadn't seen Virginia Tech's game against West Virginia. I imagine they had the same problem. I am seeing more and more of this. I warned my team last week the first time I met with them after the Notre Dame game, the first thing I mentioned to them was Michigan beat Notre Dame 38-0 and then the next week played Oregon and got stomped. I could name team after team that's happened to this year. And we fell right into the same trap."

You talked about how Chris did not have a lot of time. Your running game also seems to indicate that your offensive line is not getting it done on either account. If that continues to be the case, would you consider spreading the field like you used to?

"We did that a lot last night. We used a lot of four wide outs. Will be might do more of that, we might."

You never have had a losing streak in the ACC. What is N. C. State doing to beat your team the past two years and what's your mindset going into this game?

"They've been more successful against us than anybody else in the ACC, two wins in a row. It starts with their quarterback. You saw what a good quarterback did to us last night. And (Philip) Rivers is probably the best quarterback in the conference, maybe the best in the country. So we have our work cut out there. So, I think it starts with him. And they have McLendon, their tailback, it gives them the combination of a great runner with the receivers and that quarterback."

Will you talk to coach Chuck Amato this week?

"We talk to each other about every week. I don't know if we will or not this week."

You haven't been in the ACC that long, but does this game (FSU-N.C. State) seem like a rivalry?

"I think so. I think that's what makes rivalry. To me, you don't have a rivalry until both of you start beating each other. If one team beats the other the whole time, it's not considered a rival by your team. When you start getting beat, then all of a sudden it starts becoming a rivalry. They've made a big dent. They've beat us, what, three out of the last five years."

Is the ACC championship still important to you or is the BCS bowl is what you shoot for?

"It's the same question. You have to win your conference to get a BCS bowl. I would rather win a national championship than just to get to a BCS bowl. But, you can't get to that national championship unless you win your conference. That's part of the equation you have to have."

How much of what did Clemson was completely new?

"A lot of it. He put some stuff in. He ran his quarterback a lot. I never expected him to run that quarterback… I hadn't seen him run that much all year and he hurt us. If anybody thinks they have poor coaches, tell them to look at that film. Not only did they did have us covered, not only did they have our quarterback covered, they gave our receivers fits. They got up and challenged them, got right in their face and mixed it up good. Their blitzes, they ran a couple… they had our flares covered. Drop a lineman out to cover our flares. They did a lot of smart things last night and they executed him. How they got it done in a week, I don't know."

In a way, are you proud of Tommy?

"I am proud of Tommy. I guess I am proud of him. Got to because it's your son. But I am not proud that we got beat."

What do you remember about that 2000 game when N.C. State beat you at home and how emotional Chuck was after the game?

"We took the ball down to the goal line and couldn't get it in. That was the first loss we had here from the ACC. I've been around Chuck enough to know he's so emotional anyway. He's always been very emotional, especially in something that's a major event. It shows you what kind of a guy he is."

How do you see a different ACC coming up in the next couple of year?

"I think you are going to see a conference that, No. 1, was gaining respect anyway. Gaining respect anyway. Then you add the three people we put in there, now I think you are going to see the same respect for the ACC that you see for the SEC and the Big 12 and those other major conferences. They won't admit it yet but I think we are going to see that."

What does the ACC have to do to avoid some of the problems the SEC and Big 12 have experienced (rules violations) that seem to comes with a heightened sense of urgency for success in college football?

"I don't think that has to be. I think that's a choice that people make and I don't think… I think the ACC is kind of a Puritan group. Seems like. By that I mean I have not sensed any cheating in the ACC."

After the Miami game your team responded well against Virginia. Talk about how they respond after two losses with such a big game in front of them.

"I think the kids handle the losses so much different than last year. Last year we didn't handle losses very well. This year I think we know how to handle them now. This is a matter of having come back out and getting a high performance again, which we did not have yesterday. A lot of that was Clemson's fault. We just have to do the same thing these other people… just think 50 percent of the people in the country lost yesterday. They have to do the same thing. We have to pick up the pieces. It's the nature of the game. We just have to go out there and put it back together. I am not in a good mood as you all can tell. I am just putting up with you. I hope I am not hurting anyone's feelings."

As last week went on, were you concerned the mindset wasn't where you wanted it to be?

"I couldn't tell it. The boys didn't give me any indication because all of our practices were pretty good. But I just have had so many cases in my life where my team has beaten the heck out of somebody and looked like a million dollars and then got bragged on all week about how good they are. Then play somebody who the week before stunk up the place, did just the opposite. As you know doggone well, they are going to have an attitude transplant and you are not. That was a pretty darn good example again. I talked it every day. If you get a chance to talk to my players, ask them if I warned them about this."

Penalties produced seven first downs for Clemson. Some seem out of frustration. Can you talk about that?

"Well, it could be between frustration, over-aggressiveness and poor judgment. I don't know if frustration played a bigger part than the poor judgment."


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