CLEMSON - Tommy Bowden's Clemson offenses have set an amazing number of school records in his five years at the helm. Yet deep down he yearns to be known as the Tiger head coach who brought dominating defense back to Death Valley.
So, despite what most coaches would view as a dramatic improvement by the defense in Wednesday's short scrimmage session, Bowden wasn't happy.
And until he gets what he wants, he won't be.
"We were better today, but we've still got a lot of work to do," Bowden said. "I'd say the defense won about 50 percent of the day and the offense took the other 50 percent. There were some guys out there who made some plays. Leroy Hill always seems to show up well.
"But we can do better. We've got to find leadership from this particular team, and that has yet to come. If we had 18 or 19 starters returning from last year, it might be one thing. But we're missing a bunch, especially on defense, and we've got to find the guys to step up and provide the kind of leadership and inspiration we had at the end of last season."
Understand, now, that in the last scrimmage before spring break Clemson's offense scored on 7-of-8 possessions in goal line situations. Wednesday the defense performed much better in the same circumstances, again winning roughly 50 percent of the battles.
But again, Bowden wasn't satisfied.
"I'd like to walk out of here at the end of spring with the defense winning those battles 75 percent to 25 percent," he said. "Then I'd feel like we were on our way to getting back to the point we were at the end of last season."
When he did turn his attention toward the offense, Bowden had words of praise for wide receiver Kelvin Grant. Grant made a pair of nice catches in traffic during the scrimmage session, giving Clemson's coaches a glimpse of his potential as a major player in the offense.
Problem is, Grant's performance has yet to live up to his potential. Bowden hopes that by dangling a major role in the Tiger passing game in front of Grant, the redshirt sophomore-to-be will finally put it all together.
"(Consistency) has been his biggest problem," said Bowden. "We're waiting to see him do it day in and day out."
In other news, Corey Groover returned to practice after spending time with his ill son in the lower part of the state. Offensive tackle Marion Dukes missed Wednesday's workout due to a death in the family.
Clemson will practice again Friday, then hold its first full scrimmage at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Death Valley. The scrimmage is free and open to the public.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.