CLEMSON - Huge win or devastating loss, the level of worry seems to be the same for major college football coaches.
Last week Clemson's Tommy Bowden was concerned about his team's mental and emotional response to the 26-24, last-second loss to Virginia. This week the concern is keeping his player's from getting overconfident after the stunning 47-44 overtime win last Saturday at Georgia Tech.
Following Wednesday's practice, Bowden seemed happy with the Tigers' response.
At least so far.
"As you can imagine, practice is a lot better when you win your last game and you've got an open date (next)," Bowden said. "The enthusiasm is good. What you don't want to happen now is (players) reading press clippings and going through the motions. Then you don't get anything accomplished.
"We're trying hard to prevent that, but then you're dealing with teenagers. But (Wednesday) went pretty good."
Besides the normal amount of fundamental work, tackling drills and extra conditioning that come with an off week, Bowden is spending the extra time trying to shore up his kicking game.
Wynn Kopp averaged just 32 yards a punt vs. the Yellow Jackets and couldn't kick Clemson out of trouble once backed up deep in its own end of the field. Likewise, Tony Lazzara and Aaron Hunt were pulled once each from kickoff duty for sailing kicks out of bounds, allowing Georgia Tech to begin drives at its own 35.
Unhappy with that aspect of his team's play, Bowden has opened both positions to competition this week. Bo Charpia is battling Hunt and Lazzara for the kickoff spot, while Lee Jolly and Tif Miller are challenging Kopp.
"The thing now is you're not facing live bullets," said Bowden. "They all look good now, but it's different with those live bullets flying at you. But we're charting them, and all that stuff. They'll compete into next week."
- Bowden praised his offensive line for their efforts against Tech, particularly in how long they sustained blocks on quarterback Woody Dantzler's runs.
It was the second straight solid performance for the unit, Bowden said, after two subpar outings against Central Florida and Wofford.
The line scored a total of 68 pancake - or knockdown - blocks vs. Tech, after having no more than 48 in any of the previous games.
- Bowden took time out of a speaking engagement today in Columbia to visit 17-year old Kevin Kimrey.
Kimrey, the brother of South Carolina backup quarterback Eric Kimrey, recently was paralyzed from the chest down after a freak injury suffered while playing football after church. Bowden's five-minute visit was long enough to present Kimrey with a Clemson hat and a football signed by the Clemson team.
"It had to be quick," Bowden said. "I think the parents only get maybe 10-15 minutes with him every hour or two. His eyes lit up (when given the hat and ball). I told him he couldn't hide it under the bed.
"His dad said the biggest need right now is prayer."