Bowden: Players, Coaches Need to Make Plays

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CLEMSON --- Tommy Bowden wants it to be known he isn’t just calling out his players when he says his Clemson Tigers need to start making plays. He is also calling out the coaching staff.

Bowden says he and the coaching staff could do a better job of putting their players in a situation to make those plays.

“I’m sure there are situations where I know we could have had a better call,” he said during Monday’s press conference. “I know one against Boston College they blitzed the weak safety.”

On that particular play, Clemson was faced with a third down-and-one late in the fourth quarter, controlling the ball near midfield. Clemson tried a run to the right side, but the Eagles blitzed with their weak safety, stopping the Clemson running back for no gain.

“Normally in short yardage you don’t account for the weak safety,” Bowden said. “The quarterback doesn’t block anybody so it is pretty much ten on ten. The weak safety is unblocked because the quarterback hands it off. He blitzes and makes the play on short yardage.

“In that particular case, I wish I had a better play called because we could have run a little further outside and ran away from the weak safety.”
Bowden said play calling and players waiting for someone else to make plays are some of the reasons why the Tigers struggle to convert on third downs and stop the opposition on their third downs. Heading into Thursday night’s game at N.C. State, the Tigers are converting just 31 percent of their third down plays, while their opponents are averaging 41.7.

“As you go back and say ‘how do you correct your third down conversions?’ Some of it I could do a better job of putting us in position,” Bowden said. “Forty percent is what you go by and I know we are below that offensively. Same thing on defense. You need to hold them under forty (percent) defensively and I know we are over.”

Talented defensive front. Four the third time in the last four games, Clemson will go up against one of the best defensive lines in the country. The Wolfpack are led by perhaps the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best left end in Mario Williams, right end Manny Lawson, plus one of the top defensive tackles in the game in John McCargo.

“They are very similar to Miami,” said Bowden. “The fact (Williams) is a first rounder and possibly (Lawson) is to, you here about their ends more than anything.

“Those are the guys that jump out defensively -- two potential first-rounders and a first day guy.”
Those first round guys have been a big reason why the N.C. State defense has allowed its opponents 120 yards a game on the ground and just 306 yards a game overall. McCargo has 23 tackles, including five for a loss, while Lawson has 19 tackles and six for a loss, plus four sacks. Williams, who has seen mostly double teams all year, has 14 tackles and has four tackles for a loss.

Temple game. Clemson’s game with Temple, scheduled for October 22, is a 12:40 p.m. kickoff and will be televised in the Philadelphia, Penn., area only.

Tiger fans in the stadium. The Clemson University Athletic Department, Learfield Sports and ISP, announced Monday afternoon that Tiger fans who plan to make the trip to Raleigh, N.C., for the Clemson-N.C. State football game will be able to hear the game-day broadcast inside Carter-Finley Stadium on the FM frequency of 105.5.

Clemson, Learfield and ISP also expect to make game-day broadcasts available for the remaining road games. Clemson will announce the FM frequency during game-week of that specific game. Coverage by the Clemson Tiger Radio Network begins Thursday at 4:30 p.m. with the Tiger Tailgate Show and kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Will Vandervort is the Sports Editor for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger.

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