CLEMSON - They had to fight through a long, sometimes disappointing regular
season. They had to fight off significant interest from other teams.
But in the end, the Clemson Tigers got the bowl berth they wanted most,
considering the way the season finished. They got the Tangerine Bowl, Dec. 23
in Orlando, in a matchup with high-powered Texas Tech.
Tuesday, in his final weekly press conference of the year, head coach Tommy
Bowden used terms such as "reward" and "opportunity" when describing his
feelings toward the bowl destination.
"It's a nice reward after a season of ups and downs," he said. "In these
games the first objective is to win. The second objective is to reward the
players. There is a fine line between balancing those goals. You've got to
get out there in full pads and go hit.
"You'd like to take some extra time and get your red-shirt (players) hard
work. You would also like the players to have a good time. Orlando affords
you that kind of opportunity."
It also provides a stiff test for the Tigers' 17th-ranked passing defense.
Cornerbacks Brian Mance and Justin Miller won't be the only Clemson defenders
locked in pass coverage come game day. With Tech's propensity for throwing
the ball, the entire linebacker and secondary corps will be on high alert.
That's because of Red Raider quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, whose eye-popping
numbers this season impress even the most hardened skeptic.
Kingsbury completed an all-time NCAA record 447 passes (in 669) attempts in
2002, with just 12 interceptions. He threw for over 4,600 yards and 42
Again, that's all this season. By comparison, Clemson's career mark for
touchdown passes by a quarterback is 41.
"They have similar formations to us, but their line splits are unique,"
Bowden said. "The difference during the course of the game will be the type
of throws they make. They have more of a horizontal passing game as opposed
to vertical. To throw it 50 plus times a game, a lot of it has to be
horizontal because of the high percentage.
"Kingsbury completes a lot of balls. The only team we've played like that, as
far as throwing that much on a normal basis, would be Louisiana Tech. The
style of the game will be a lot different than anybody we've faced."
Bowden also broached other topics Tuesday, including:
- Rumors he was negotiating with Baylor over its vacant head coaching
"They did call, but there were no negotiations. My feelings about (Clemson)
haven't changed since my first press conference here. This is where I want to
finish my career. But I'm glad (Baylor) called. They're not the first team
that's called and I've said no to, and hopefully they won't be the last. When
other schools are calling, that means you're having success."
- When he'll replace defensive ends coach Rodney Allison, who left this week
to take over as head coach at UT-Chattanooga.
"What I'd like to do is accumulate a lot of information between now and
Christmas. Then after Christmas I'll sit down and do some background searches
and make sure the resumes are checked. We can put graduate assistants on the
road more and put one down on the
field as well now that Justin Watts is also gone. He went with Rodney to
UT-Chattanooga. I'm looking to replace him by the beginning of January."
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.