Bowden: Mental Toughness Important Down Stretch


by - Correspondent -
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ORLANDO - With just three days until the kickoff of Monday's Tangerine Bowl,
workouts here in Florida now come with a bit of an edge.


It's a matter of who wants the next victory more, according to head coach
Tommy Bowden. Does his Clemson team want an 8th win more than Texas Tech
wants a 9th?


Bowden believes the answer to that question lies nearly as much in the mental
battle this week as it will come game time Monday.


Clemson's usual in-season routine consists of four weekly practices before
Saturday's game. Today will be the Tigers' seventh practice over five days,
and by the time Monday rolls around Clemson will have spent nine days
preparing for Texas Tech.


Keeping the mental edge these next three days - especially with bowl-related
distractions added into the mix - will go a long way toward determining a
winner on Monday.


"Do we want to win eight more than they want to win nine?," Bowden said.
"That's the challenge. Plus you've got a chance to go up against the Big 12,
which is right now probably the premier conference in the country with what
Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State and Colorado have done. So it's a measuring
stick.


"When you talk about 8-5 vs. 7-6, you can take the (117) teams in Division
I-A and start creating some separation. So I hope (our players) start seeing
those things. They've done a pretty good job so far."


With the game plan firmly in hand, most of the remaining Clemson's workouts
will be heavy on recognition and assignments, Bowden said. Becoming more
familiar with fronts, formations and alignments used by the Red Raiders on
both sides of the ball will be most of the focus.


It also will be Bowden's opportunity to continue reminding his seniors that
Monday will be their final legacy at Clemson.


"We've talked about it every day," he said. "For the seniors, this is their
last chance. That's usually what happens in a bowl. The other guys have an
opportunity for another one and to do better. If these team wants to leave a
legacy of 8-5 as opposed to 7-6 it's going to be initiated by the seniors,
because this is their last shot.


"They've heard it so much there's no sense in isolating them and telling
them. They know."


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