Bowers leads defensive effort


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele stood in the hallway outside of the Tiger locker room, shook his head, and came up with one word to describe the effort of junior defensive end Da’Quan Bowers.

“Wow.”

Bowers erupted for three more sacks on Saturday against Maryland, giving him nine on the season, and had an additional tackle for loss. The Bamberg native spent a good deal of time in the Maryland backfield all afternoon, and Steele said it’s simply a case of Bowers elevating his level of play.

"Da'Quan does what Da'Quan does, which is disrupt games,” Steele said. “What a game that guy played. He affected the quarterback all day long. He's taking it to another level."

The normally quiet Bowers has taken on more of a leadership role this season, and could be seen talking to each player as they headed to the locker room before the game. During the game, he was another coach on the sideline, but to hear him tell it, he is just a bit player.

“No, it doesn’t start with me,” Bowers said. “Every player on this team has a role and I’m a role player. If I’m down and out, I depend on my teammates to pick me up, just like if they’re down and out, I’m going to put them on my shoulders and carry them. It’s a great feeling to have players that will put it on the line for you.”

Bowers certainly carried his defensive teammates at times on Saturday, and said he wants them to be able to depend on him to make plays every week.

“I come with the attitude that I want to give my teammates my best effort every week,” he said. “I don’t want to let those guys down. There are a lot of guys depending on me to make plays and I just want to thank my fellow defensive players for giving me the chance to put pressure on the quarterback and make plays.”

Bowers was cradling the game ball while being interviewed – head coach Dabo Swinney gave it to him in the locker room following the game – and said he was thankful the Clemson coaches never gave up on him.

“He just said that I laid it on the line for six games,” Bowers said. “He’s just proud of me and my effort. I’m just granting it all to my teammates and my coaches for believing in me when nobody else did. We built our momentum by making plays. I was able to make some big-time plays and the offense was able to build off of our momentum. We just tried to keep it going the whole game. It ended up very well for us.”

The Clemson defense gave up just one touchdown in 12 drives against the Terrapins, and pressured Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien into three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Xavier Brewer.

“I think this is probably our most complete game as a defensive unit,” Bowers said. “We had some big-time plays by some big-time guys. The pick-six was big for us and we had some batted down balls that were big for us. I’m proud of my defense for working hard and staying focused throughout the week.”

Bowers ended the interview by saying his play is a result of maturity.
“It’s just reading my keys on the plays that are coming to me,” Bowers said. “I’m not trying to be Superman out there. I’m just letting everything flow to me and it’s turning out good for me.”

*Xavier Brewer intercepted O’Brien with just over five minutes remaining and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown and Clemson’s final points. He said he was praying for the hitch on that play.

“I was playing off my man, but I just kept him in front of me,” Brewer said. “He was so wide. I knew if they threw that hitch that I’m breaking on it and I’m scoring on it. I had my eyes on the quarterback. He was so wide that I was able to keep my eyes on the quarterback and read him, too. When he threw that, I was just thanking him for it.

“I knew it was a touch down before I even broke. Before I caught it, I was thinking six. After three weeks of frustration, I’m just proud of my teammates and proud of my defense. These last two games, we put it on our backs and said it was on us.”

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