CLEMSON - One day after his team's stunning 26-24 loss to visiting Virginia, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden couldn't - or wouldn't - talk about "The Push."
Though television replays clearly showed Cavaliers' wide receiver Billy McMullen pushed off against cornerback Brian Mance on the game-winning touchdown reception with :01 to go, Bowden was guarded in his comments when asked about the play.
"I have to deal directly with the officials, which I will," he said in his regular Sunday teleconference.
When asked to elaborate, Bowden declined.
"I'll get in trouble (with the Atlantic Coast Conference)," he said. "They don't want me going into all that. I'll send (film) to the head of the conference officials. I do that every week. The conference encourages it.
"I send in about four or five (questionable) plays every week."
The dramatic catch by McMullen capped a 44-yard drive in the final 1:43 of the game. Quarterback Bryson Spinner said afterwards that the Cavs work on that very play daily in practice, hoping to catch opposing defenses off guard and possibly expecting him to spike the ball and stop the clock.
But Spinner threw, and the fade pass worked to perfection.
And when comparisons were drawn to the end of a basketball game, when perception is officials rarely call fouls in hopes of ensuring players decide the outcome, Bowden wasn't ready to admit the same logic applied to football.
"No, not really. I don't think that's an unwritten rule," he said. "You need to call the officials. Of course, they don't talk to the media."
Push or no push, there were plenty of other reasons the Tigers came up short Saturday:
- Quarterback Woody Dantzler was intercepted twice and fumbled once, the latter of which choked off what could have been a potential game-clinching drive with less than 5:00 left in the game;
- Sophomore kicker Aaron Hunt missed a 33-yard field goal attempt, after earlier making a career-long 45-yarder;
- Two 15-yard penalties on the same play - one a dead ball personal foul - took Clemson off the Virginia two-yard line and back to the 47 on its first possession of the game. The Tigers failed to score on the possession;
- Clemson's defense surrendered a 10-0 lead, giving up 20 unanswered points in the second and third quarters.
"The turnovers are the biggest thing," Bowden said. "We've got to find a way to get rid of those."
- The new polls weren't kind to the Tigers.
Clemson fell to No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, while completely dropping out of the new Associated Press Poll. Both polls were released Sunday afternoon.
- Four Tigers landed on Sunday's injury list.
Nick Eason (sprained ankle), Matt Bailey and Eric Meekins (pulled hamstrings) are listed as questionable for Georgia Tech. Wide receiver Jackie Robinson (broken jaw) is out for at least the game with the Yellow Jackets this Saturday.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger and the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9.