Dan Scott Interview: Tommy Bowden

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Dan Scott: Before we go too far, I had a chance to interview your brother, Terry, on the show yesterday and you?re right. That boy can talk.

Tommy Bowden: Yeah, how much time did you allot him?

DS: Well, we squeezed about an hour into 20 minutes.

TB: Did the show go over?

DS: Yeah, it did. Just a little bit.

You?ve got a game obviously coming up this week against a Virginia Tech team that we all know what happened up there last year, and you have been inundated again this week with Special Teams questions. Probably more than you want to talk about after the Georgia Tech loss. And you?re playing a team now that?s made its reputation, since Frank Beamer?s been there, on Special Teams. Obviously, that?s got to be a key heading into this game, I would think.

TB: Well, it is. You know, I think we?ve tried to modify Mark Buchholz?s schedule a little bit. We tried different practice routines. Of course, he?s still going to play this Friday and we?re going to fly him out Thursday after practice and go up there and play (soccer). But we?re going to adjust his practice schedule a little bit, see if we can address that. The blocked punt, I think we?ve addressed. You know, we played Virginia Tech and Florida State last year, and Georgia Tech, three great block punting teams and we didn?t have any blocked last year. So, we?ve got the same protection and same coach, so we?ll try to get that corrected. And I think that?s mostly it of the major concerns there.

DS: Yeah, and this is a team that when it comes to blocking kicks?Beamer has rested his reputation on that for a long time, and they?re as good as anybody in the country.

TB: They are. They?ve got results ever since he?s been there in doing that. Like I said, I don?t know if they?ve blocked one against us. We?ve played them four times, but I hope surely that doesn?t change this year.

DS: You?ve obviously had a chance to see their defense on film through the early portion of this season, from at least what (I?ve) been able to see in their televised games they don?t quite look like the intimidating defense they were last year. At least not consistently?What have you seen on defense? Are they down at all, or are they different at all from what they were last year?

TB: Well, talent wise obviously you?re going to change every year. Their scheme, I think my brother Terry said he interviewed Frank Beamer yesterday and he said, ?Why are you good again defensively?? And he said, ?We?ve had good staff continuity and we do the same thing over and over and over and over.? So that?s one of the reasons. He does have some pretty good defensive players, one of them is his Defensive Tackle, he weighs about 313 lbs. is what they list him, but I don?t know what he weighs. Again, they have some very solid players, but they have tremendous staff continuity and they do the same things. Every coach knows what they?re doing. Every player knows what they?re doing. And that?s one of the reasons I think they?re productive. Plus, Bud Foster is kind of like the guy at Georgia Tech. He?s got a great track record.

DS: Knowing what they?re about and the pressure they like to bring, as aggressive as they are, from a game plan standpoint,?how do you plan to attack them? What do they do and how do you plan to counter?

TB: Well, what?s different is their coverage. Furman plays their defense, but obviously they just have a little bit better skill and talent. So if you saw Furman?s defense, then you?ve seen Virginia Tech?s. A little bit different wrinkles and everything. They don?t play exactly the same, but that?s the same type of scheme. It?s more or less what you call a 2-Deep Robber, which the Corners are deep, half-field players and the Free Safety, instead of being in the deep middle or being one of the hash players, he comes down the middle and reads the Quarterback?s eyes. He?s the robber type guy. And then he?s the fifth underneath player. It?s a 2-Deep, four underneath with a Robber, the Safety, being the 5th guy. And I don?t know what that sounds like to your audience, but that would be the difference. Then, there?s the additional 3-Deep, four under or a 2-Deep, five under. This is a 2-Deep, four under with a Robber, and the Robber being the Safety. Usually a lot of people use their Safeties in their coverage more-so than Virginia Tech.

DS: Well, against Furman and that type of defense, you were able to hit some plays down the field. That?s what was open. If you can protect Harper, will we see the same thing in this game?

TB: Well that?s what we missed last year. As we mentioned when we played Furman, we went out and we took out a Virginia Tech film and looked at that and we just took some of the deep balls off that tape and threw them versus Furman and it worked. Like I said, it?s still a little bit different coverage players and pass rush. Now we didn?t give up a sack last year versus Virginia Tech, but we were under a lot pressure and had to scramble and we did not hit the deep balls that we had open. This year there?s a little more concern. We?ve given up, I think, 16 sacks in five games. We gave up 15 in all 13 games last year. Of course, we?ve lost a lot of linemen and we thought people would try to pressure us early in the passing game because of how we ended the season last year and our lack of productivity in down-field passing. So, and against Georgia Tech, had we not dropped those balls and missed field goals, or make a couple of the field goals and dropped just half of the balls and hit one of our three touchdown passes, then that?s probably a 20-3 game. But those are things we can surely correct in practice.

DS: Speaking of the Offensive Line, I know that again this week there?s talk about possibly doing some shuffling around to try to find the answer and you?ve talked about the sacks, not all being on the Offensive Line as you said earlier this week, but some of them attributed to the line. What?s going on there as far as personnel and when will you make any decisions about maybe moving some folks around?

TB: Probably gametime on Saturday. I would hate to announce today a new starter and give Virginia Tech two and a half days to take one of their big 313-pounders and say this guy?s new so let?s move him over here. And let?s redesign several of our schemes to play more of an odd than an even, or an even than an odd. So it wouldn?t benefit us, if there were to be any changes, to announce them now because that would give them two and a half days to take one of their huge ham-hogs they got in there at Defensive Linemen and adjust some of their schemes. So if we do, we?ll surely announce them at press box level on gameday.

DS: As far as their play, you said earlier this week that they didn?t play as well against Georgia Tech as they did against NC State. What were some of the concerns as you watched that film?

TB: Well, somebody asked me and I said nobody on our offense did; Running Backs, Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers or our Offensive Line. We?ve got to protect a little bit better and we?ve got to run-block a little bit better. Of course, those are the only two phases that you could be concerned about, but we have got to do them both better. And even though there are some guys that haven?t played, there are some older guys that understand. You know Brandon Pilgrim and Capote, even though they haven?t started, they?re older guys. And our Center of course is brand new and it starts in there. So, we?ve got some growing up to do. It?s not like we?re doing real bad, but there?s definitely room for improvement.

DS: Tommy is there beginning to be a level of concern about the health of James Davis? shoulder? I mean is he getting really banged up there again, because I know he was out a couple of key series later in the game and Sadat Chambers was in.

TB: No, it seems like someone always gets nicked up a little bit and has to get looked at by a trainer before you send him back in and if we?re in a two-back offense, then he?s the next guy to go in. So he came back in and played and both of them should be healthy this week. Then, after five games being the type of sport this is, all of our players have something; an ankle, a knee or a bruise, or thigh bruise, or sore back, or sore shoulder. So James or CJ or Cullen for that matter, no one is really in any worse shape than anyone else on our team. So hopefully we can?t get healed up during the open date.

DS: I was just going to lead into that. You?ve got to be ecstatic about having the open date where it is now as opposed to having to play 11 games before you get to the break like you did last year.

TB: Yeah, we should be able to get Nelson Faerber back who is a special teams guy and a walk-on Wide Receiver that?s earned a scholarship and is beneficial to us. Rendrick Taylor, hopefully we?ll get him back during the open date. And then some of these nicks and bruises that hopefully we can get healed up to head down the stretch for our last six games.

DS: Speaking of special teams, I noticed Chris Wade was out there last week playing with a cast on his arm.

TB: Yeah, we missed him the week before and he?s really been a pleasant surprise. He?s very aggressive, not real big. But he has a lot of heart and plays that way. So we?re glad to get him back. As long as he?s able to develop a little more firmness in his bones, they?re going to minimize that cast. The cast right now is about as big as he is.

DS: Final question for you and it deals with the young Quarterback from Virginia Tech, Tyrod Taylor. Obviously, a very good athlete and they think he is the future there. What have you seen from him, where can he cause you problems and where can you cause him problems?

TB: Well, you know, he?s a Michael Vick type guy and that?s why they signed him, that?s under the pretenses that the recruited him. He has those running skills. He?s got a really good arm. He?s not as tall, so if you can contain him, he has sight problems, like most short Quarterbacks do. You know, when we played NC State we gave Ricky Sapp, Merling and the other Defensive Ends a free rush lane, where you could spin inside or outside and if he breaks containment, that guy we can catch. You can?t do that with this guy. You have to be very disciplined in your rush lanes. Sometimes you can spy a guy like Rashaad Jackson or Dorell Scott, you just don?t rush them in case the Quarterback breaks contain. You can?t do that with this guy because they can?t tackle him. You have to do it with Nick Watkins or Michael Hamlin or somebody which takes somebody out of coverage. So he definitely presents problems for you if protection breaks down. Now the last guy that hurt us last year, he?s a lot like Cullen Harper. He?s a big, strong guy that can throw it. So they?ve got two pretty potent weapons.

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