Notes from Tommy Bowden Weekly Press Conference

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Tommy Bowden Weekly Press Conference, Windows Media, (38:12)

Chansi Stuckey, Windows Media, (6:55)

Charles Bennett, Windows Media, (4:44)

Charlie Whitehurst, Windows Media, (13:32)

Do you plan to stretch the field vertically more against Maryland?

Bowden: We might, if Maryland presents the opportunity we'll attack it.

Can you tell much from the Maryland film against Maryland?

Bowden: Very little, it’s not real helpful to us other than personnel. It’s more
or less last year’s cut ups.

Is Maryland’s linebacker D’Qwell Jackson the one to keep your eye on?

Bowden: Yes, he's good, real good.

What makes him so good?

Bowden: Size, strength, agility, instincts. He reminds me of a bigger Leroy Hill
in the fact that he had a good feel for playing the position.

Is the true test for your program winning the game after a big win like Texas

Bowden: A true test to me is putting a consistent winner on the field, and we
have not done that. Once we do that there may be a true test. Texas A&M was a
true test. 1959 was the last time we had beaten a top twenty team to open a
season. So, I think a true test will be when we can play a championship game and
win it, or national championship and win it, or division. There are some
problems I am anxious to see if we can fix this week. That's a test. The true
test comes at the end of the year.

Are you making any changes to running back personnel this week in goal line

Bowden: We need to look at who our top performers have been, and Reggie
Merriweather is one of our top performers in the red zone. I probably made a
mistake by not putting him in a position to see if he could do it or not.

Why did you use Duane Coleman near the goal line?

Bowden: He's a hard runner. I think all of those guys are hard runners. I know
more about Kyle, Duane and Reggie. Some guys have a knack for moving a pile and
Reggie has that knack. We'll evaluate that a little more this week.

Was it a matter of rotation that James Davis got the ball at the end of the

Bowden: My pregame comments were who ever had the hot hand would be the horse we
rode for a while and he just happened to be the guy. It was his time. We were
just more or less using a rotation system.

Will you continue to use four running backs all season?

Bowden: What I said last week was that I think several of these guys will
separate. You would like to have four equal guys, and no they are not all equal,
they all have their strengths and their minuses. I think a picking order will be
established at some point in time.

Do you go into this week planning to run four?

Bowden: Not as much as we have.

Why did Texas A&M have success running to the left?

Bowden: I don't know, you'll have to ask Vic. But I wouldn't think they would
game plan running to the left unless there is a huge personnel change. The big
plays that stick out in my mind happen on the right and not the left.

Where you pleased with Charlie's performance?

Bowden: I was pleased. I would like you to direct that at Rob (Spence). I was
pleased. It was a simple passing game plan. It was not real complicated. As you
seen a lot of the throws were high percentage throws, so he should be at 70
something percent.

Do the no offensive touchdowns concern you?

Bowden: It may be a concern after three or four games but, not after one.

Did James Davis surprise you?

Bowden: He ran between tackle and tackle a little more aggressive than I though
he would and read his assignments were pretty good.

Is it easier to correct your mistakes after a big win?

Bowden: There's no doubt. They practice good sometimes after some losses. They
have responded good to some defeats. Their enthusiasm is a little more obvious
after a win. There are some big lessons to learn from defeat, but there is a lot
more to be learned from winning.

We talked about James, but what about the other true freshman?

Bowden: We played 14 freshmen in the game, that's a lot and I wish it weren't
that many. We played six or eight true freshman in the first half alone, and I
was pleased with them. There has been a lot of attention brought on them. There
could be more before the seasons over.

Did they make fewer mistakes than you had anticipated?

Bowden: Yeah, they really did. I think it is credit to both staffs from a
preparation standpoint. We did have some missed assignments, some where from our
older guys.

What's your take on a tougher opponent versus a lesser opponent?

Bowden: Now? It's a lot easier after you've won the game. These young guys after
playing a prime time televised game I would think their confidence level has
grown. Even though the game was close, the fact that they performed well will
kind of keep them level headed and maybe give them some confidence early. I
believe that by the middle of the year that some of these guys will play a more
important role than they did on the first game.

How do you keep them from having too high of a confidence level now?

Bowden: Football is a mental sport, and that is something we'll have to address.
I don't think that we have had enough success at a high level around here for
the guys to be over confident. With the opponent being a conference and
divisional opponent, the stakes have gone up and that should help keep their
heads level.

Is it safe to say that you'll mention divisional to the guys this week?

Bowden: I already did. It was discussed Monday in our team meeting right off the

Merriweather still the starter at running back?

Bowden: We'll go from there and develop a pecking order throughout the week of
practice. Reggie did not do anything to lose his job, and competition is a good
factor. The other three guys will have to raise their level of play because
there’s a new guy on the block.

Did the James’ numbers surprise you?

Bowden: A 100 yards. It has been a while. Reggie had 100 yard games last year.
So for a true freshman to come out here against a quality opponent, nationally
ranked, on tv I was real impressed.

Can you talk about the environment you are going into, they don't usually
lose at home.

Bowden: Three years in a row you win ten games, you're not going to lose at home
or on the road very often. We have struggled with them the last four years, they
have been a difficult opponent, especially offensively.

Did Maryland’s offensive struggles last year surprise you?

Bowden: Yeah, it really did. Regardless of the quality of the coaches, the
quality of the scheme, or talent of the player, experience is hard to duplicate.

Will Charlie be ok for Saturday?

Bowden: I think he will be fine. The medical evaluation after Saturday all
checked out 100% so I don't think there should be any problem.

What range do you feel confident with Dean kicking that last second field

Bowden: I feel comfortable around 57 yards as far as him making it. He's got a
strong leg and a lot of confidence right now.

How difficult is it for a quarterback to change to a new system?

Bowden: That was a concern as a head coach when you bring in a new system. And
implementing that system in the first game, especially against an opponent as
good as Texas A&M. If you have a lesser opponent you can afford a few more
mistakes. I think what we gave Charlie was an impressive plan from our staff.

What did you think of Maryland’s offense against Navy?

Bowden: I haven't watched a lot of their offense. I typically watch more of
defense. We'll probably get more out of Maryland's offense than we do Navy's

Has Charlie's confidence level been affected due to last year?

Bowden: I'm sure it did a little, but he's a hard worker and he's got some great
advice at home with his dad, and he's been well coached here by Mike O’Cain.

If the offensive line keeps up, will you be more inclined to red shirt guys
like Barry Humphries?

Bowden: If I could, yeah. With a collision sport injuries at some point in time,
are going to be a factor. Unless we had a large rash of them on offensive line I
would like to red shirt as many as possible of those guys, particularly that

How did the offensive line grade?

Bowden: Nathan Bennett played the best of the offensive line, Dustin Fry may
have been second, I was real pleased with them.

Is zone blocking more conditioned for someone like James Davis?

Bowden: I think it will be. I think he will really like it but when he got
homesick that was one of the things he didn't like.  But he probably likes
that zone blocking a lot more now.  They did a lot more man blocking in
high school.  They were in the I-Formation and he was back there a lot
deeper.  There is an adjustment period he didn't feel comfortable with.

Would you have gone for two?

Bowden: That conversation came up in the first half because I checked the charts
and it may have said two but the time of the game, if it’s early, the general
rule of thumb is, first half kick second half, the later the game gets, go for

Do you know how many formations you used?

Bowden: I sure don't, we went in with eighteen.

Will you add any more this week?

Bowden: Probably not, it’s hard to get in any more than eighteen. I imagine it
will go between eighteen and twenty one.

Does your use of the tight end present help hold the linebackers?

Bowden: It presents more running opportunities for you. It does present the
linebackers more problems, more so outside than inside.

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