CLEMSON - With Maryland out of the way and a very talented North Carolina State team up next for Clemson, head coach Tommy Bowden faced the first round of what likely will be a week-long series of questions Sunday afternoon.
What, coach, do you think about the job your former defensive coordinator - Reggie Herring - is doing in the same position at N.C. State?
Bowden's answer was nothing but complimentary.
"(Herring) was good when he left (after the 2001 season)," he said during his regular Sunday teleconference. "He spent two years in the pros (linebackers coach in Houston), which only makes him better. And now he's with Chuck Amato, a defensive guy who's been really productive.
"He's had three more years tacked onto what he already knew, and you can see the results. They play with his intense personality. And with that additional knowledge combined with that intensity, the results have been obvious."
Herring left Clemson amid much criticism.
The Tigers finished 7-5 that season, including a win in the Humanitarian Bowl. Clemson's defense performed sporadically that year, suffering a number of injuries to key personnel and finishing ranked No. 71 in the country at 389 yards allowed per game.
They were 79th in scoring defense, allowing 28.6 points per game - the category Herring always valued above all else.
After one particularly difficult defeat, a 26-24 loss to Virginia at Death Valley, Herring publicly railed against the fans who booed his defense's effort. It was discovered later that a profanity-laced tirade by a fan on the field after the game - in the presence of Herring's young son - prompted the outburst.
Herring apologized a few days later, but never seemed quite the same afterwards.
Following the Humanitarian Bowl victory, Herring left to accept a job at Ole Miss as the school's defensive coordinator. But before ever coaching a game for the Rebels, Herring left that job to become linebackers coach for Dom Capers and the NFL's expansion Houston Texans.
But despite Herring's emotions and differences - real or perceived - between he and Bowden, the Clemson coach said he never wanted Herring to leave.
"I told him I didn't want him to leave. I told him he was here as long as I was here," Bowden said. "But with all the criticism, it probably weighed on him..."
Herring is hearing no such criticism this season. His Wolfpack defense is ranked No. 2 overall in the NCAA (234 yards per game) and is 36th in scoring.
Clemson is 47th and 58th, respectively.
- No explanation was given for the suspension of wide receiver Curtis Baham. Sports Information Director Tim Bourret said Baham is expected to play this week;
- Wide receiver Chansi Stuckey is listed as doubtful for the Wolfpack after leaving Saturday's game with a sprained ankle. Linebacker Anthony Waters (sprained knee, ankle) is questionable;
- Bowden, on the continued struggles of his offense:
"We made way too many mistakes. We're not playing smart. There were opportunities to hit big plays and we didn't hit them. Charlie's been more accurate on the deep balls. There were big plays we needed to make, but we didn't make them."