FSU's Bobby Bowden Weekly Press Conference Quotes

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Opening comments

Well, I have not looked at the film. All I’ve seen is the highlight film when we
put the show together last night. I’m trying to visualize what I saw. Kicking
game – you know you always say offense, defense, kicking game. I felt like we
lost the offensive game. We lost the defensive game. We won the kicking part.
That was nearly the difference last night. Offense, the biggest breakdown came
on the goal line. It was kind of like Murphy’s Law.

I think our team is a little exposed right now. We jumped off and beat Miami and
you saw how good Miami was last night. Then we beat Boston College up there.
Then you lose to Virginia up there. And Virginia, Maryland and this game were
all very much the same. We were able to win one of them. All three of those
games played very much the same way. We’ve lost two of those very much the same

Q: What has been exposed?

A: The fact that we’re not as mature as we’ve been playing. I’ve been saying all
along that our freshmen were not playing like freshmen. Then last night we began
to make freshman mistakes.

Q: How critical is this whole offensive line situation?

A: That’s a good point. I have not looked at the film. We were playing against
what we thought was the best defensive line we had seen and they were. Their
tackles and their dad-gum ends. Their best tackle was out. They were able to get
enough pressure on us with a three-man rush and a four-man rush. We’re not
helping ourselves in that situation because we’re not running the ball much.
When you don’t run it, you’re not slowing the rush down much. And yet it seemed
like when we did run it that nothing was there. I felt like we’d just be better
if we went ahead and threw it. That happens when you get beat. But I think we’re
better than we were last night.

Q: It seems like the problem is two-fold: You’ve got a lack of depth and the
guys you are playing just aren’t physical enough. A lot of them are playing

A: Like I said, exposed. We’ve been exposed.

Q: A couple of offensive linemen said they didn’t anticipate nearly as much
three-man fronts as they saw on Saturday.

A: You can see exactly what people are doing. It’s very wise. Virginia came out
and rushed three people and dropped eight. Doubled here. Doubled there. Single
here. Next down, single here and double there. It’s a guessing game with your
quarterback. And they say, ‘Okay, we’re gong to let you throw the ball. But that
freshman quarterback ain’t going to be able to read all that we’re showing.’
Well, we didn’t quite get the Virginia game. We got the Maryland game in the
same way where we hit enough to win it. Then this game last night was the same
way. Here’s a team that blitzed all year, every down. Looking at the film on
them, they blitzed every down. The problem was you didn’t know where it was
coming from. Last night, I don’t know if they blitzed.

So they said, ‘Okay, you’ve got a young quarterback. Let’s see if he’s good
enough to beat our coverages.’ They put some stuff on us we had some problems

Q: You mentioned Maryland and Virginia and N.C. State, but N.C. State is the
only team in that group that doesn’t normally play a three-man front.

A: Yeah, but they play both. We anticipated a four-man front. They’ve shown both
all year. Here’s what they would do: They would play the run on first down. So
we run the ball and might make two yards. Then they’d take someone out and put a
fifth defensive back in. Sometimes they might have played six backs and used a
three-man rush. We probably saw more three-man front than we expected.

Q: Is part of that just Chuck’s intimacy in knowing so much of what you guys try
to do?

A: You’ve got to realize this: Chuck sat in our meetings for 18 years. He knows
everything I’m going to tell them before the game. He knows everything I’m going
to tell them at halftime. He knows everything I’m going to tell them if we’re
ahead. He knows what I’ll tell them if we’re behind. He knows what Mickey likes
to do. He has a pretty good plan for us every year.

Last year, he really should have beaten us up there. We played field position in
that game. The whole first half, we were on our end of the field and didn’t do
anything. The next half, we kicked off to them and had them. We scored three
straight times and then sat on the ball. I would have thought they would have
beaten us last year up there and I would have thought we would have won down

If we would have got it done in the red zone. And that’s not what bothers me as
much as those long runs that are popping out of there. You play a team like N.C.
State and you’re favored. They come in here and they’re not sure. Second play of
the game they hit a 65-yard touchdown. Now it’s 7-0. Now their confidence jumps
way up here. Now we start scratching our head a little bit. So you’re fighting
to get back and fighting to get back and we got back. Then that back didn’t seem
like he would break one unless they were behind. When we’re up 10-7, he broke
like a 50-yarder or something like that. I haven’t seen a better freshman back
in a long time. He’s big and he’s fast. He gets faster as he goes.

Then they don’t turn the ball over. I think they were leading the nation in

Q: So you think that second play set the tone?

A: That definitely sets a tone. It sets a tone. The way our games have been
going, we usually jump ahead. Although we never got ahead of Virginia. We got
ahead of them yesterday, but they just kept coming back.

Q: It didn’t seem like your receivers got separation at the line.

A: That’s probably true. A lot of times you go in at halftime and you see
problems and you get them worked out. But you lose [Willie] Reid. We lost [Greg]
Carr for about a quarter. He went in and got his hip shot up and came back out.
Then [De’Cody] Fagg didn’t play. We probably didn’t have the continuity that
we’ve normally had.

Q: Does it make it tough to evaluate where your quarterback is given the
inability to run and the injuries on the line?

A: Well, all I know is our quarterbacks are a lot farther along than I thought
they would be. I was hoping with Lee’s mobility they would get away from that
three-man rush or four-man rush and he might be able to run and make some
yardage. He threw it every time and wasn’t close on his throws. But, again, you
go back and if you score in the red zone like you are supposed to then this game
would have been about like the Maryland game. Maybe Boston College game.

Q: How much does Leon Washington’s absence mean?

A: Every game, he usually chips in a couple of very good runs. We probably
missed that. We missed him pretty good on the goal line, too. He’s a slashing
runner. We needed them all.

Q: You get the ball on the 5 after the second blocked punt and Weatherford trips
over one of his teammates on the first-down play. That almost took the life out
of you.

A: That hurt. There is a lot of difference between 2nd and [5] and 2nd and
whatever it was. That’s long yardage there.

Q: How much debate was there to run the ball on that first down?

A: We usually do. We’re 100 percent run. So what I think they are thinking is
we’re going to run the ball. So let’s fake it and throw the ball. Could you see
whether or not we had someone open?

Q: It was hard to tell because he fell down so fast.

A: The thing was, we purposely got in that formation because in that formation
we have run 100 percent of the time. The other team knows that. They see us in
that formation and we’re 100 percent run. So we fake it and we’ve got two guys
going out (for the pass) and we fell down. I don’t know if we would have had a
shot at it or not, but at least we could have thrown an incompletion. Like I
said, it was Murphy’s Law when we got in the red zone. I think the other time we
took it down there and we got a penalty. Geez, that’s awful. They were a good
defense. If they were a poor defense, we could have gotten in there anyway. But
they were excellent. I watched the Virginia Tech game just yesterday morning.
Their Virginia Tech game went the same way. They led them the same way – 7-0,
7-7, 10-7, 10-10, 13-10 North Carolina State, 16-13 North Carolina State and
then Virginia Tech got one at the end of the game. Our game nearly went the same
way. They are a lot tougher than people realize.

Q: Did you watch Miami and Virginia Tech last night?

A: I watched a lot of it.

Q: Looks like you’ll play them again the week after Florida.

A: I know, we’ve got three games on the road in a row. I hate playing your big
rival twice. I don’t care if you win or lose. It ain’t fun to play Florida twice
and we had to do that two times. It ain’t fun playing Miami twice. This will be
the second time we’ve had to do that. They are tough.

Q: Get on the phone and call Al Groh and give him some advice.

A: I tell you what, I can’t see many people beating Miami – not the way they’re
playing right now. As long as you keep that defense together, they’ve got a
chance. I think they had 10 starters returning at the start of the year.

I thought the difference would be [Marcus] Vick. I thought his mobility might be
the difference compared to someone who didn’t run as much.

Q: How much better do they look now than when you played them?

A: Much, much better. But the thing that is deceiving is that our defense played
so much better the first two or three games. Usually when you are playing great
defense, you are going to get enough points to win.

Q: Last week, Mickey said that he thought some of the guys who had been playing
real disciplined started trying to make too many plays. Maybe it was because
they were trying to make plays to cover up for other deficiencies on the

A: Sometimes that happens. You hate to take a kid’s ability to play football if
he’s a natural. I’ve seen some great players do that. Marvin Jones is a great
example. They’d do the wrong thing but make a great play. He was so fast.
Usually you tell a linebacker don’t go behind the blocker. Go across his head.
I’ve seen him run behind and still make the tackle. You don’t want to coach
that, but some of them can make plays doing that. Then there are some who can’t
do it and you get hurt.

The second long run that kid made, we had subs in there. That first one is what
blows my mind. Those were the best players we’ve got. Again, you’ve got rookie
corners in there and you wonder if you had veteran players if they would have
made that tackle.

Q: The guy who got stiff-armed was playing with one arm.

A: That’s exactly right.

Q: You go to Clemson on Saturday. Talk about the challenge you guys face now.
They are trying to make their season.

A: Well, it’s just a matter of us trying to get everybody healthy and practice
hard. We had excellent practice last week and excellent morale. Everything was
working in our favor. I told Chuck, ‘I didn’t think you could do it.’ I didn’t
think they could beat us here. Gosh, that back is so much better than I thought
he was. Gee whiz.

Q: Now Tommy has his freshman tailback back in the lineup.

A: Yeah, Tommy’s freshman is excellent, too. They beat [N.C. State] bad. They
had them 21-0, I think.

Q: He won yesterday without his quarterback.

A: Is that what happened? Last time I talked to him, I thought he was going to
start the other guy. We’ve just got to play our best, period. We’re not good
enough not to play our best. We’ve seen that.

Q: It’s not an easy place to play for you guys.

A: It’s just very loud. It’s got a good ‘home tone’ to it for the home team.

Q: Is there more of a rivalry for Clemson against Florida State than vice versa.
It seems like those fans really want to beat you kind of like your fans want to
beat Miami or Florida. It seems like you are their rival, even before Tommy got

A: I think it’s just the opponent. Maryland, North Carolina State – we’re the
highest ranked team they play except if they play Miami. So they are all having
a race now to see who can get us the most. Chuck’s winning.

Q: Deion calling them down the hill and then saying he was going to take one
back and then doing it probably riled them up a little bit.

A: Oh sure.

Q: Or your trick play.

A: Oh yeah. Sure.

Q: The TV announcers last night were saying that Xavier’s mom came over during
the week to talk to you.

A: She came over. We spent some time talking to her trying to explain what’s
happening. I think she has a pretty good understanding when she left.

Q: Do you have a feel for how that might turn out?

A: He’d be wise to stay right where he is. He has no intention of leaving.
People put those ideas out there. Those aren’t his ideas. His mother just wanted
to know what his future held here for him at Florida State. I told her. I told
her to tell him to stay right where he is. Keep improving. I watch him every
day. I think anybody that saw the game knows he needs to work. He’s got great
potential but he needs a lot of work.

Q: Are you frustrated with your running game?

A: I really haven’t been that frustrated with it because if we wanted to run the
ball we could take all those wide receivers out of the game and bring in some
tight ends. We could run it. I don’t know how effective we’d be. This is not our
nature. We’ve been so successful throwing, why run? Well, the reason you need to
run is so they can’t pass rush all the time. If you can run the ball, they’ve
got to be careful that you don’t run it. So we’re trying to run it enough so
they can’t count on us throwing the ball. It’s kind of like if you throw it you
can get 10 (yards) and if you run it you can get four. I’d rather have 10. If
our runs were going for 15 yards, then I’d run more. We’re better at pass
protection and throwing than we are at run blocking and running. We’ll get
better at it, but we’re kind of out-manned right now.

Q: How did Antone look to you?

A: I thought he ran good. I thought he made one excellent run that he nearly
scored on. You know, also, if you get ahead of somebody you can call your game.
Play it the way you want to play it. Run two downs if you want to. You’re ahead.
But when you’re behind, you’re trying to catch up. You don’t want to waste a
down. You are trying to make a play. Most people – and N.C. State is a good
example – aren’t going to let you run on first down. You can run it if you want
to, but they are going to have everybody there.

Q: Was your game and Virginia Tech losing good for the conference?

A: Well, it was for us because it got us in the playoff. (laughing) It’s the
first time I ever backed into a playoff. I can’t believe it. I think it’s good.
It shows your parity. Nobody’s got it made.

Q: You have said all along that it’s not fun playing Clemson. Do you still feel
that way?

A: It’s not fun. No. Tommy needs to win. I’m going to do everything I can to
beat him -- or see that Florida State beats Clemson. Tommy is going to do the
same thing. Tommy talks that sweet talk, too. But he doesn’t like to lose
either. It’s not fun because I’m going to hurt him if I beat him and he’s going
to hurt me if he beats me. That part of it is not fun.

Q: Two years ago, he went into that game with you wondering if he was going to
get fired. Do you think he’s back on that hot seat?

A: No. Not unless they want to pay him a lot of money. He got his contract
squared away to where if y’all want me to leave, I’m heading to the beach. They
could if they want to, but he’s got it fortified to take care of his family if
that should happen. You know, he’s playing pretty dang good this year. That’s
the thing about it. The losses have been fourth quarter, last play of the game,
things like that.

Q: Have you seen this other quarterback he’s playing?

A: I just know they are playing mighty good. I haven’t seen this other guy.

Q: Has the last three of four years just gotten even tougher than it was at the

A: That part of it is not fun for the family. Ann – it’s tough on her. She
doesn’t want to see her son get beat and she doesn’t want to see us lose. She
will pull for us, too. She wants us to win the most. The other members of the
family are probably the same way. One of us has to get beat.

Q: You had to know you would be in that position when he took the job. Would you
have preferred he took a job in another conference?

A: Yeah, so we wouldn’t have to do this. It’s funny, I was supposed to play
Terry. We had Auburn scheduled and he got left out. (chuckles) That was supposed
to happen before Clemson and then he left. So then Tommy goes to Clemson and
we’re playing against Tommy instead of Terry.

Q: Do you think Tommy has ever completely been accepted by the Clemson people?

A: Probably some of them. I don’t know what that percentage is. Would you say
it’s half of them or a third? I don’t know. I’m sure there are some. Tommy’s got
a good personality.

Q: Initially, it was a love-fest for him up there.

A: Yeah. Tommy gets along with people pretty dog-gone good. But, again, you’ve
got to win, too.

Q: Is that a case where you go to a program where they’ve won a national
championship and you’re never going to surpass that previous guy until you win

A: Unless you win it.

Q: Won’t that happen here with your successor?

A: It usually does. History says that.

Q: It’s not a matter of winning, but winning national championships at a program
like that. Right?

A: Yes, sir. Whatever the high standard the guy set before. Continue to roll on.
It’s the nature of this job. The guy that followed Vince Dooley. The guy that
followed Bear Bryant. The guy that follows anybody who coaches 25 years or 20
years at a school.

Q: You said it’s not fun any more. Was it ever fun? Like the first time?

A: At first, it’s kind of new and exciting, you know? Never done it before. It
would be more fun if Tommy were 10-1 and we were 10-1. Now neither one of us
gets hurt if we lose.

Q: Any word on Leon and whether he’ll be back this week?

A: I think he’ll be back this week. I think. It looks like he’s moving around on
it pretty good. He hasn’t been practicing, but it looks like he’s walking on it
pretty good. I guess we’ll test him and find out.

Q: Getting back to the Clemson series, that first one was special – 300th win,

A: Wasn’t it my birthday? We were undefeated. We had a lot of stuff going on
that game.

Q: Your 50th wedding anniversary was around that game, wasn’t it?

A: Yeah, might have been. Put down 100 because it seems like 100. (laughter)

Q: I don’t want to remind you, but you’ll turn 76 this week. What’s college
football like now compared to when you started?

A: It’s not even close. There are so many things. You nearly could just start
with the ball game. Back in those days, you played both ways. You didn’t have
specialists. You usually picked your players on defense because you wanted to
have a strong defense. Then you had to go over there and play offense, so you
usually didn’t have very good offensive players. Games were 7-0 or 14-7. At
14-0, you could substitute everybody because nobody could get two touchdowns in
a quarter. The big difference is with 11 players you didn’t need but 33 people.
That would be three teams. You didn’t have kicking specialists. You just asked
‘em, ‘Who can kick extra points? Can anybody punt?’

Q: You still say that, right?

A: (laughing) But that’s the biggest difference right there. Then you get into
all of the television and film and stuff like that. Now you can go out and watch
them practice. You go inside and it’s right there for you and you can let the
boys see what they did. That was a big change. Of course, the media has entirely
changed. When I first came up, if a player got in trouble then the police would
usually call me. Coach Bowden, I’ve got one of your boys down here. He’s done
this, this and this. Okay, I’ll be right down. Go down there and get him and
take him back. We’d handle it. It would never get out and nobody cared back in
those days. Now, it’s out before we even find out. It’ll be out before we know
about it and it will be all over the world. That’s a big change.

Q: How have you changed? With these new-age players, have you conformed to coach

A: I’ve tried to understand them. It is very difficult because they are so
different now to what we were when we were coming up. The culture has changed so
much. But I try to understand them. I try to treat them like I’d do my own
children. That’s the big thing I try to do. When I first started coaching, I
wasn’t like that. I was bad. I think that’s what happens to a lot of young
coaches. They want to win and they want to win at all costs. You get older and
you realize – you know, where I learned is when I coached Tommy, Terry, Jeffrey
and Steve. I coached all of them. Steve and Tommy and Terry at West Virginia.
Steve played two years. Tommy played five. Terry played five. Jeffrey, I had him
at Florida State. Then you see your son get hurt. I saw Tommy with a busted
lung. We played out in California and he got his lung busted and couldn’t
breathe. We had to leave him at the hospital. I saw Terry laying there with a
broken leg. I saw Terry laying down there with blood coming out of his nose and
ears. That scared me. I saw Jeffrey with his knee torn up. So you realize that
all these boys belong to somebody. That’s my boy there, but all these boys
belong to somebody. I think the older you get, you get more compassionate to
these boys. They probably recognize it.

Q: Is there something you maybe don’t understand or that you have a hard time
understanding in this day and age?

A: The hardest thing is some of the things they do that I wish they wouldn’t do
because I think they shouldn’t do them.

Q: Is drug use one of those?

A: Well, that’s not as big a problem because we test. And by testing, a lot of
them are scared to because they know we test. We random test. We’ll pick out 10
guys and test them and they never know when they might get tested. That probably
works as a good deterrent. I’m not as concerned about that because I think we
know what’s happening there. It’s some of the other issues – moral issues that
the kids get into that a lot of them don’t realize it’s probably not right.

Q: Is it tough to watch the way some of them celebrate on the field? They’ve
curtailed some of that.

A: To me, that whole thing is the result of watching professionals on
television. These kids see the pros doing that and they’ve got to copy them.

Q: Vanderbilt got hurt by that. They were going to go for two at the end and got
penalized for celebrating.

A: That’s the thing about it. I can remember Warrick Dunn running for Florida
State and diving into the end zone when he didn’t have to dive. They put the
flag on him. I see it happen all the time and they don’t call it. You never know
what they are going to call.

Q: They’ve changed that rule about diving that you can’t do it unless you have
to do it to avoid a tackler.

A: And yet I see it all the time. I see it without even – I saw it in a game
last night. Somebody dove. I think it was Southern Cal. The guy ran about 15
yards and the kid dove way out there. I’m not sure if it was them or not.

Q: Everybody can’t do it except Heisman candidates.

A: (laughing) See, the NCAA put out a list at the beginning of the year of
things you can’t do. This happened the other day. I was up on the tower watching
our boys practice. One of the things is you can’t spin the ball. One of our boys
did that this year and got a penalty. Goodman did it. So we’re out there
practicing and I see one of our kids catch a pass and spin it. Then another one
catches one and spins it. Last night, before the game I said I don’t want any of
y’all spinning the football. I saw y’all out there practicing it last week. That
is against the rules. I knew exactly what he was going to do. If he made a play,
he was going to spin the ball. Show-off. But the see the pros do it and they
want to be like the pros.

The other thing is you really hate to cut down the enthusiasm too much. It’s
like if you get ahead of somebody on a big play and it’s exciting and you tell
them, ‘Don’t get excited. Don’t get excited.’

Q: Last night, the No. 5 team in the country (UCLA) was down 50 points. How does
that happen?

A: I always felt like it was attitude. Attitude controls so much of how you
play. They might have thought they didn’t have much of a game. I don’t know.

Q: You were part of a team that beat a highly ranked Kentucky team by like 42
points, weren’t you?

A: Yeah, I was here then. They were third in the nation. Ole Miss started out
the year No. 1 in the country and Kentucky beat them. Then in the second game,
they beat Georgia or somebody that was ranked pretty high. They beat them and
they were No. 3 in the nation when we played them. We were unranked. And we beat
them 48-7. Had a shutout until one of our kids fumbled a punt down there on the
10-yard line and they scored. That was a big upset at that time.

Q: How does that happen?

A: I can see easily how that one happened. Kentucky beat Ole Miss in their
conference and I’m pretty sure Ole Miss was No. 1in the country. Then they
knocked off somebody else. It might have been Georgia. That was a big win. Then
they go down and play little ol’ Florida State, who ain’t nobody. We weren’t
nobody back in those days.

Q: UCLA had come back from double-digit deficits four times this year.

A: That’s right. They sure have. I thought they were going to get it last week.
I don’t think they play defense out there like they do down here. Everybody runs
up and down the field out there.

Q: You’ve got a Southern Cal grad in the room.

A: Aren’t you proud of that? I’d be proud of that.

You know, naturally we’re not happy with our losses. But you start out the
season like everybody else. What’s your goal? To win a national championship. If
you can’t win the national championship, what’s your goal? To get in the playoff
and try to win your conference. So that goal is still there. Playing for the
national championship is already out. Y’all don’t know it yet, but it’s going to
be Texas and Southern Cal. I don’t know who is going to stop who. There is no
defense involved in that thing. That’s going to be 75-70. Both of those teams
can score.

Q: You think it’s USC and Texas?

A: It looks like it. I just can’t see anybody that beats them. It’s not likely
to happen, but it could. I’m afraid Alabama if they continue to win, I’m afraid
they will be like Auburn last year. They’ll have a hard time getting by LSU and
Auburn, but they might do it. Auburn is playing real well now.


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