Poor Practice Wednesday Draws Bowden's Ire
After practice audio from Tommy Bowden: Windows Media
CLEMSON - After four great weeks of practice it was bound to happen.
Clemson's Tommy Bowden was noticeably perturbed when he met with the media following Wednesday's workout. It seems the Tigers didn't exactly endear themselves to the head coach during the afternoon practice.
"We had our worst practice today since we started playing games," Bowden said. "I was really disappointed in that. If we play like we practiced today we'll lose Saturday. No energy, no enthusiasm, no effort. I don't want to single out the guys, but they know who they are."
Asked if it was just a handful of players, Bowden shook his head.
"More than a handful," he said.
As he spoke, most of the team was trudging off the field toward the shower area. However a number of players remained behind, hidden from view by the screened fence surrounding the practice area, apparently paying for some of their transgressions.
Asked how he handled the situation, Bowden sort of half-grinned.
"I'm not a cussing type of guy. But they got the point."
Not that Wednesday should be any cause for alarm.
Bowden reiterated that it was the only bad practice the team has had since the games began four weeks ago. For the most part, he said, the leadership has been strong and the practices have been good.
But Bowden even questioned the team's leadership on Wednesday, saying he was "disappointed" in that area of things.
"That's why I had to get involved," he said.
Why make such a big deal over one practice?
Because his Tigers are coming off a scintillating performance in a 52-7 dismantling of North Carolina Saturday, a victory which came after a week of warnings about a letdown following the previous week's emotional win at Florida State.
This Saturday's opponent, Louisiana Tech, shouldn't be much of a challenge if raw statistics mean anything. But Bowden is trying to get his program beyond the stage of playing up or down to its weekly competition.
He wants the same, consistently high level of performance every time out. That's why, in addition to the poor practice on Wednesday, he also found himself harping on special teams.
"We seem to have corrected the problems in our kickoff coverage and our field goal kicking," he said. "But we're just average, and I read somewhere where average is as close to the bottom as it is the top. That's about where we are.
"We haven't blocked a field goal. We haven't blocked an extra point. We have no long kickoff returns. We have one long punt return, and that was in the first game of the season. Just like last year. We're just average, and we need to be better than that."
- Clemson's redzone touchdown performance is up significantly over a year ago. The Tigers have reached the end zone 71.4 percent (15-of-21) of their possessions inside the opponents 20 yard line.
The best percentage for a complete season in the Bowden era is 71.1 percent.
- An NCAA report released Wednesday named Clemson as the fifth best team among ranked programs in graduating student-athletes who enrolled between the years 1996-1999.
Oddly, Bowden was evasive when asked about the issue and didn't seem too happy about the subject as a whole.
"I've always made them go to class and try hard," he said. "I'm going to hold off (saying anything else). I'll have more later...It's a sore spot at this point and time."