CLEMSON -- Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden was a guest on Sports Talk with Dan Scott on Friday. SportsTalk can be heard from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9 in upstate South Carolina.
Dan Scott: Talk about the injuries you suffered.
Tommy Bowden: To lose three starters in one game is unusual and possibly a fourth with Charlie (Whitehurst) which will go up till game day Saturday. We haven’t asked him to cut full speed on his ankle yet or do anything full speed. We wanted to give it as much opportunity as we could to heal and then if it is healed it will hold up on Saturday. If not then it looks like it will be a couple more days.
The open date came the wrong week. We really needed it this week but that’s how the cards were dealt so you go with it. But I’m really excited about Tramaine Billie, seeing him play, Gaines Adams, seeing him play. We will see more of Curtis Baham. Of course Tony Elliot is initially going to kind of take Airese’s spot. We have seen so much of him, I hate to mention him as not being a regular. But Curtis Baham will see a little more action. I’m excited about seeing Tramaine, Curtis and Gaines Adams.
DS: What will Curtis Baham bring to the table?
TB: He has had a really good spring. He has had a really good preseason and had a good fall. It’s just we just have some other guys that are a little bit older that are doing well also. I think Curtis will do well. He is a redshirt sophomore and his father played in the NFL for a while. We are really excited about seeing what he can do.
DS: Will you have to change your downfield passing with the injury to Airese Currie?
TB: We still got to challenge them deep some. If you watch Virginia since Coach Groh got there they got really a soft shell - either two deep with five under zone or three deep with four under zone. They are going to keep everything underneath them so it’s tough to get behind them, but you got to challenge them regardless. Throw it up there and get a pass interference or it might be like a long punt or the guy might catch it. The other guys don’t have the same speed as Airese but you still got to challenge them, but I’m not going to say which one we are going to challenge them with.
DS: What will some of the young guys bring to the game on the defensive side of the ball?
TB: There is obviously a reason why a guy is first team. He’s a little further along than the other guy. He will lose a little bit in that sense. But a guy like Gaines is awful talented just inexperienced. He will probably make some mistakes but hopefully recover with ability. The same thing with Tramaine. Mo Fountain will be playing and also Lionel Richardson. What you lack a little bit in experience, the youth and the enthusiasm, those are the things you pick up.
DS: Talk a little about Virginia’s Matt Schuab. You said you had to throw out the South Carolina game film when he didn’t play.
TB: The other guy was just not ready to play. Matt (Shaub) was ACC player of the year. He is a seasoned veteran. He is a big physical guy. You got to hit him flush up. You can’t be hitting him on the edges. I’m sure from a leadership point he brings a lot to the table. Other than being a very talented player, a big physical player, the leadership qualities he brings to the table make him a complete package.
DS: Virginia brings a strong rushing attack to Clemson this week.
TB: You know last week Maryland led the ACC in rushing and now Virginia leads the ACC in rushing. So both weeks we’ve had to face the team that leads the conference but that will be a key for our defense is slowing their rushing attack down.
DS: Talk about their defensive style
TB: It’s the darnest thing when you look at it on tape. It reminds you a lot of a defense from twenty tears ago as far as their technique. You just don’t see anybody doing that anymore. If you take your Oklahoma’s, your Miami’s, and Nebraska the defensive linemen are in the gaps and on the edges. Their tails are high in the air. They are in three point stances with one foot dropped back in a sprinter stance. Their heads are low and their tails are high, and they are coming up the field knocking off pulling guards and tackles, penetrating and trying to create havoc. These guys are sitting there in parallel feet, kind of straight head up stance where they engage an offensive lineman then kind of locate the ball with their head and play east – west a little bit. There are fronts were they give you good pass rush and there are fronts where they play heavy, heavy run with their technique. As our fans look at their technique they will see something a little different than about all college football teams play.
DS: What do you expect from Yusef Kelly this week?
TB: He hasn’t played very much this year. He has been banged up for, gosh, most of the time. I’m sure he will be a little rusty, but I think we got a good indication from the South Carolina game what his potential is. He will not be in top form in the game, but he will be a little bit change of pace from Kyle (Browning), Reggie (Merriweather) and Duane (Coleman) as far as body type and a little bit bigger body slamming it up there.
DS: Some fans have expressed a lot of concern if Whitehurst is unable to play. What can they expect from Chansi Stuckey?
TB: Chansi (Stuckey)will be like throwing anyone else out there that hasn’t had the experience. You kind of got to learn on the field of battle. His position is a little more obvious with him handling the ball every single time and probably more critical. But again, he is eventually going to be a talented quarterback. He just doesn’t have the experience. He is going to make mistakes just like any young quarterback is going to do whether a rookie in the NFL or a freshman or a sophomore in major college football. It’s not lack of confidence. It’s just a fact of reality. We have confidence he is eventually going to be a talented quarterback.