Notes from Tommy Bowden Weekly Press Conference

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Tommy Bowden Weekly Press Conference, Windows Media, (40:19)

Van Hilderbrand on parking, traffic and West End Zone, Windows Media, (4:11)

Jamaal Fudge, Windows Media, (14:18)

Charles Bennett, Windows Media, (5:21)

Curtis Baham, Windows Media, (3:55)

** According to Tim Bourret the capacity for Clemson Memorial Stadium this year will be listed as 77,381. The new capacity when the West Zone is completed in 2006 will be 80,301. Previously, capacity was listed as 81,473. When Clemson listed that number in previous years, it counted 6,000 people on the hill. Death Valley's new capacities (2005 and 2006) will count just 4,000 people on the hill and that accounts for the fact that the new capacity in 2006 will be lower than what it had been previously.

Bowden Notes

Is there more of a sense of urgency this year to have success early?

Bowden: There's a sense of urgency every year. I think the facilities improvement has been an advantage in recruitment, we have done some things here that we have not done in the past and I think that's why you see so many red shirt freshman and true freshman.

So you think these kids bit on the hunch that it was going to come to fruition?

Bowden: Last year they did not bite on a hunch, we walked them through weight room and locker rooms. So it was not a hunch, they had tangible evidence.

Was there a decision to play some of the younger players early to give them experience and help them grow?

Bowden: We have always had the philosophy to put the best players on the field regardless of classification. This year there just happens to be more of them.

How much more equipped is this team to take on a guy like Reggie McNeal?

Bowden: I think we were equipped last year but we didn't tackle him, so we have to find out if we are better equipped to tackle him. I think its going to have to be done by numerous guys instead of one and I think that's going to be instrumental in the game Saturday.

There were other quarterbacks who had success getting outside the pocket, was tackling the issue?

Bowden: Yes, and Virginia would come right of the bat and be the one that sticks out. Those skilled guys in open space do, and you have to have the guys to match up with them. I think we match up better with these guys, our offensive line versus their defensive line as opposed to our smaller defensive guys versus their bigger offensive guys.

How important is it to win the first game of the season?

Bowden: The sooner you win, especially when you are doing something new, the players buy into what you are doing quicker.

Where is your level of comfort with the changes?

Bowden: I like the overall plans on both sides of the ball, when they'll come to fruition is a little uncertain. I feel good that we have addressed some of the major issues. As to how big of a learning curve, I don't have a feel for that yet, I think we will coming out of the game.

How do you run your running game Saturday?

Bowden: It will be by committee, you usually go with the one with the hot hand more than the others. Regardless of who has the hot hand there's not a 235 lb guy that you can continue to slam up to over and over. It doesn't bother me doing by committee. I think we'll go into the game with all of them getting initial carries.

What do you think of the A&M defense?

Bowden: I came out of a meeting watching them on defense, and they run real good. They are some pretty big guys that can run and bigger guys that can run are pretty good at taking on a block straight on. They are a skilled team.

You have had some big games to start the season, would you prefer to have something easier?

Bowden: We've had them both, and there are pros and cons. I think one of the positives about this game is that you get your players attention pretty good. We'll be the underdog playing at home a nationally ranked team. We'll get a pretty good indication of how good we are for a pretty challenging schedule right of the bat.

Are you and Rob Spence on the same page?

Bowden: It's going to be very similar other than you will relinquish more play calling responsibility on game day. There are a lot of carryovers and similarities so the pages aren't that different.

Will you and Rob script plays before games?

Bowden: He might. I may be in there with him and I might have a suggestion.

What did you take from last years' game with A & M?

Bowden: Running games, turnovers, dropped balls and tackling their quarterback.

Will fans notice a change in the tempo?

Bowden: There will be some changes in tempo, but I don't think it will be as noticeable as it used to be.

Do you believe James Davis is over his personal issues?

Bowden: Yes, I believe so.

What did the players learn by playing the Aggies last year?

Bowden: Biggest thing would be the quality of personnel. We have a different plan on both sides of the ball.

How is Charlie compared to last year?

Bowden: I don’t think there was anything tangible missing. I think we have a better plan to be successful.

How has the punt return changed since Justin Miller is gone?

Bowden: It really doesn't change because we don't know what these other guys can do.

Do you prefer being the underdog?

Bowden: I would like to spend some time on the mountain top to see how hard it is to defend it. Most coaches would probably say they wouldn't mind flying under the radar. America loves the underdog.

Is it going to be a game time decision as to who starts at the corner opposite of Hill?

Bowden: I think the true evaluation will come after the game. But as far as the work being done by Sergio and Chris Clemmons and Ty Hill and some of our young guys, I feel real good about the potential. I think we have to see performance during the game but as far as work ethic its been healthy.
There's been competition and attitude as been good.

Did you know Clemson has not beaten a ranked opponent in the first game since 1959?

Bowden: We have beaten our share of ranked teams, not enough. I would like to do that first day.

Can you coach turnovers in defense?

Bowden: I think you can coach it, but I also believe that it goes in cycles. I think they will come with the track record of Vic.

What do you think of the Aggie receivers?

Bowden: I think they are very talented, they lost the big one from last year. Probably a little more physical than our guys. They are impressive, talented group.

What sticks out to you the most with them?

Bowden: To be honest, I think their blue collar wide outs are going to go out there and get the job done. Physically they'll be a little bigger, but I think our receivers are evenly matched.

Sometimes when you cover all their receivers and McNeal runs that is their best play.

Bowden: That's going to present a problem. It was a problem last year along with the fact that they ran some options. When we had Woody Dantzler we always debated, do we put in a quarterback draw or do we call a drop back pass and hope they are covered. When you have someone who runs like that you have a tendency to not put in as much running game.

Is there stress on the linebackers to keep him from getting outside?

Bowden: Yes. They have drop zones and drop depths that you like to drop.

Talk about Charlie Whitehurst lack of a running game last year.

Bowden: The lack of productivity in the running game affects you in several ways, makes it more difficult on the offensive lineman and puts more of a burden on your quarterback. Hopefully as this offense evolves the more success we have in the running game will hopefully increase his productivity.

How has Charlie performed in preseason?

Bowden: He's done well. Any time you go to a quarterback friendly system they are the ones who share most of the burden. If you look at the productivity that Rob has had at quarterback the last ten to fifteen years he's giving them a lot of responsibility and burden. So, Charlie has done well, he's a fifth senior so he can probably handle a little bit more than a freshman or a sophomore. He's handled it well and I am anxious to see how he does Saturday.

What distinguishes Carl Torbush’s defensive philosophy?

Bowden: He's very sound, he don't give you a lot of big plays. He's got a very sound system and they are a very talented team and that helps.

Do you feel good about your offensive line?

Bowden: Probably depth and experience, overall, since I have been here yes we have finally got some size, fairly good athleticism, and depth going into my year and by far the best.

What are the pros and cons of doing more zone blocking?

Bowden: I think any time you simplify the running game you can get better techniques because you do it over and develop a good habit of having a lot of repetition. Its allowed us to invest a lot of time and effort on a small number of plays and hopefully we'll be able to execute them against multiple fronts.

What is your biggest concern coming into season?

Bowden: As I mentioned before, the learning curve, you don't want to use an excuse but you don't want to be nieve not to think that there's not going to be a growth with new schemes on both sides of the ball. The schedule is not very forgiving, there's not a lot of margin for error in who we play.

What do you think the national appeal to this game will be?

Bowden: They are two programs with a lot of history, I think some of the appeal nationally will be the military background, I think that will appeal to a lot of people as this game is marketed a little more as we get closer to game time. It is two good football programs that are struggling to get to the next level with nice traditions and histories.

Will the West End Zone construction affect any of your game day procedures?

Bowden: We should be in the locker rooms, so we'll have somewhere to operate.

Will you give us an update on Bobby Williamson?

Bowden: Bobby turned an ankle we think, he had xrays this morning so we should know something this afternoon.

Will the injury to Williamson affect your ability to use the tight end?

Bowden: We have six guys, so it should not affect us, if we wanted to use additional guys.

Has Charlie put last year behind him?

Bowden: Knowing him and his character I would say yes, he's put it behind him. I'm sure it’s difficult, but again, he's fifth year senior now and I don't think he could go through anything more difficult than he did last year. He's got a lot of pride about his performance. I'm sure some will carry over but not enough to affect his performance Saturday.

Talk about how hard it is to blitz a guy like McNeal.

Bowden: If you blitz a guy like him when he breaks, if someone misses him, he's going to run a long way. They do a lot of multiple wide receiver sets so you are in man coverage, they're gone, your linebackers have blitz so there is a lot of green space. Obviously if you are playing zone and he breaks you have conversion by corners or linebackers from an umbrella type mode. That umbrella is gone when you blitz and you really have to be careful. So that does present a problem. There are bigger holes if he makes a guy miss.

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