Bowden Still Optimistic About His Team

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON — Clemson coach Tommy Bowden knew Thursday night wasn’t his night the minute a whiskey bottle hit the back of his head as he roamed the sideline during the first quarter of the No. 10 Tigers 24-7 loss to Virginia Tech.

“First the whiskey bottle hits me in the head, I had take a cold shower, and we lose the game,” Bowden said Friday. “It was just a bad night.”

Bowden said the bottle that struck him was a mini-bottle thrown by a fan. He gave the empty glass bottle to athletic director Terry Don Phillips and later learned the person responsible for throwing it was arrested.

“It scared me a little,” Bowden said. “If I turned around, it could have hit me in the eye or something and done some real damage.”

As it was, it is just a small bump that Bowden said was no big deal. As for his team, Bowden said he wasn’t concerned about his team’s frame of mind and expected them to be ready to compete next Saturday when they host Maryland in Death Valley.
Bowden told his players before excusing them for the weekend that a good team could bounce back from a bad performance and still accomplish the goals they have in front of them.

“I think if I explain it in those terms, ‘Hey, we’re still a good team. There’s a lot of football left to be played. ... We’re at home the rest of the schedule.’ We’ve accomplished, I think, too many good things and shown too much consistency to fall apart at the wheel,” he said. ‘And I don’t think we will.”

The Tigers (7-2, 4-2 ACC) do have a lot to play for. The loss to Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-2) dropped Clemson back to fourth place in the Atlantic Division. But division leader Boston College has played two fewer games than the Tigers, while Wake Forest and Maryland have only played three ACC games to this point.

With all that said, the Tigers still have a shot at representing the Atlantic Division in the ACC Championship game.

“There is still a lot of football to be played,” Bowden said. “We are not in the ideal seat, but at least we are in a seat.”
Bowden is keeping the Tigers focused by putting that thought in their minds. If they beat Maryland next weekend, it will mark the first time since the 2000 season a Clemson team was still competing for a conference championship.

“That is something that hasn’t been done here in a long time,” he said.

The only thing that does have Bowden concerned is his team’s mental psyche after being beat handily by the Hokies. Virginia Tech outgained the Tigers 334 to 166, while tailback Branden Ore rushed for 204 yards against a defense which came into the game ranked seventh nationally against the run.

The 24-7 loss marked Clemson’s first defeat of more than six points since a 30-10 defeat to Virginia on an October Thursday night in 2004. The Tigers 26-game streak of winning or only losing by six points or less was the second longest streak in the country and the longest at Clemson since a 33-game such streak from 1899-1904.

“It’s been a long time since that has happened here so it will be interesting to see how they respond,” he said. “Considering everything they have been through this year, I think there is a good chance they will bounce back.”

Clemson has dealt with significant injuries to key personnel since the season began, including starting linebackers Anthony Waters and Tramaine Billie, safety Michael Hamlin and receiver Chansi Stuckey. Left guard Roman Fry and tight end Thomas Hunter, both senior starters, did not play against Virginia Tech because of injuries sustained a game earlier.

If you had asked Bowden before the season started if he would take a 7-2 record at this point while missing so many important players, “I probably would say yes. I want to win them all. ... In taking everything into context, I think this team has absorbed those losses well. It’s been very resilient.”

Clemson’s only other loss this season, 34-33 in double overtime to No. 18 Boston College, already meant someone had to beat the Eagles.
“We’re looking for guys that get up,” he said. “That’s where you compete for championships.”

Courtesy of Daily Journal

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