CLEMSON - It wasn't exactly throwing down the gauntlet, but Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden had some determined words for his offense Monday.
Two days after his team eked out a 10-7 victory over visiting Maryland, Bowden told reporters it's time for the offense to get out of its funk and start making plays. And with an ultra-aggressive North Carolina State defense on the horizon this week, it better come sooner rather than later.
"We're going to have to be productive against a good defense," Bowden said after Monday's practice. "(Texas) A&M, Virginia, Florida State and Maryland, those are four good defenses. And we're playing another one (this week). At some point and time we've got to be more productive.
"They're all good defenses, and that's fine. They'll give a lot of people problems, and they have, and will continue to give people problems. But at some time we've got to grow up and be more productive against a good defense."
Clemson's offense had only two drives worth speaking about vs. the Terps. Fortunately for Bowden they produced the 10 points necessary to win the game.
Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was sacked five times and hurried plenty of others. The running game was inconsistent, at best.
Yet again there were opportunities for big plays. One deep ball to Airese Currie was underthrown. Another to Chansi Stuckey just missed. There were at least two other shots downfield that misfired.
It's those plays which have been missing from Clemson's arsenal so far this season, the kind of plays which open up other avenues for Whitehurst and Co.
"It's low percentage, but we should have hit two of those four," Bowden said. "Instead we missed all four of them. You saw them. Airese (on) the one we underthrew, and Chansi on the one crossing route. We would have scored, probably."
Of course there were other plays which never came close, most notably a couple of reverses which backfired.
"We were just trying to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers and make something happen," Bowden said. "Instead we lost 16 yards."
Bowden also expressed concern about the direction of college football after learning Florida had fired head coach Ron Zook and his staff earlier in the day.
"Just listening to the President's Commission I thought they had things under control," he said. "Academics were very important. I thought they were going to redirect the direction of college athletics and not let the tail wag the dog. Interesting. Interesting.
"I was under the impression academics were important and the college presidents were going to take the bull by the horns, get this thing going the right direction where they're priorities are. Looks like to me that's not necessarily the case."
Stuckey is listed as doubtful for this week with a sprained ankle. Maurice Nelson (thigh bruise), Chris McDuffie (thigh bruise) and Anthony Waters (sprained knee) are all questionable.
Earlier today the NCAA released graduate rate data for the
freshman class entering in 1997. The report lists Clemson's
graduate rate in football for the freshman class that entered in 1997 as 45 percent.
The NCAA study counts transfers as non graduates. It should be pointed out that only 19 of the 25 in the this class played for current head coach Tommy Bowden. Of those 19, 11 have their degrees from Clemson and another is currently in school and will graduate in
December. That is a current graduate rate of 58 percent for Bowden
players in this class and will be 63 percent by December. The
national average for Division I football players was 57 percent for the period released.