Quotes from Bowden and Amato Weekly Press Conferences

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Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden

"Georgia Tech showed a lot of patience on offense in their game against N.C. State. The way that N.C. State plays you defensively with a lot of press man coverage, they take away a lot of high percentage throws. You have got to be patient because eventually you are going to get one. As I talked to the team yesterday I made sure they were aware of the big plays that N.C. State had offensively, they hit an 80-yard touchdown on a post, and had another big passing play. Our team is aware of their big capability on offense, and then we are also aware that when we are on offense we will have to be patient."

"I would say that their defensive front is very similar to Miami's. I think that #9 (Mario Williams) is probably going to be a first-rounder and possibly #90 (John McCargo) as well. You hear a lot about their defensive ends, and #91 (Manny Lawson), but McCargo is a guy that could possibly go in the first round if he were to come out early, I think he is only a junior. On offense, I think their tight end (T.J. Williams) may be the best one in the country. The guy at Maryland (Davis) was also very good, but when you talk about the best I think most pro scouts who come through here think of T.J. Williams. So they have potentially three first round guys on their team."

"Last year they went into our game having played a lot of press man coverage, but then against us they played a lot of two-deep zone. I think that was probably due to a lack of respect for our running game. I think we are running the ball a little bit better this year. I would anticipate we that we would see a little more man-free coverage than we saw last year."

"The off week gives us a little more time as far as formation recognition, front recognition, and things like that. We'll find out how productive this past week was once we play. The team has been in pretty good spirits, I think some of you saw the scrimmage with our scout team guys and our spirits are still high. We are not quite half way through the season yet and the personality of this team is one that shows it will play you hard for 60 minutes. This is also probably the smartest team I have coached in regard to penalties. I also don't think I have coached a team as highly ranked in regards to fewest penalties and fewest turnovers."

"This team has developed an identity and I think that demeanor has been good over the open date. As the head coach, I have to make sure that I don't flinch and sit here and try to change a lot of things because obviously we are pretty close. We have to find a way to make one more play."

"We have not played out of control where things get discombobulated with things such as penalties, 12 men on the field, or mis-manage the time late in the half. We have not done those type of things. We have played very consistently for five straight games. We have played five 60-minute games that have all come down to the last play, and our team has not shown signs of getting tight. We have played five consecutive games that have been decided by six points or less, something that has not happened at Clemson since 1906.

"I think the most important thing for our team right now is that we have got to find a way to make one more play. Are our games close? Well, yes they are close. It would be crazy for me as a head coach to go and change a lot of things. I have learned to stay the course. Now if we were losing games by 30 points, then yes we would have to change things, but we have not been doing that."

NC State head coach Chuck Amato

Talk a little about how important it is to get an ACC win at home.

It just kind of answers itself. We've got to win, period. Home or away. But we do have to win a game here for everybody involved. Could you imagine this place if that game the other night was played here, won here, how crazy the fans and everything would have been on that last play. We have collapsible goal posts so they can't take them down. But it's important to these young men, and it shows you that every game we've been in with the exception [of Eastern Kentucky] has come down to the last play.

Theoretically every game could have been won on the last play of the game and it was won or lost on the last play of the game. Every one of them. I know what it's like to lose on the last play of the game. These people – the Wolfpack fans can be well-assured that we are doing everything within our power to concentrate now because today is Sunday, excuse me today is Monday, to get ready to play a good Clemson team, that could just as easily be 5-0 as they are 2-3. Talk about losing games at the end. That's the way this league is. It's going to be a crazy year. But we'd like nothing better.

Sometimes teams can really get on a roll after an emotional win like Thursday's. Do you sense your guys have that feeling?

I was hoping you wouldn't have caught that, you see. I was going to use that on Thursday night before we hit the field. Really, it should. Success breeds success. I said this the other night. What a feeling, on the field after the game was over and in the locker room after the game was over. We've got an awful lot of correcting to do yet on those penalties. We start the game, and the one thing we said is we have to protect Jay enough that he can complete his throwing motion. And he goes back on third down, and he goes to complete his throwing motion and somebody hits his arm. Wobbly pass. I guess it was an interception. So we start off that way. And then defensively we have a penalty on like first or second down. But they don't get anything. But those penalties they have got to stop.

If we don't have two penalties on what we call our attack team, the punt block team, that gave Georgia Tech the ball over again, it would have been as dominating a game in the kicking game as we would have had against a really quality, quality football team. But those things, they all come into account, too. You know what we did after that game? We celebrated the win because Earle Edwards told me a long time ago. He says, "Chuck." He called me Charlie. "Don't ever apologize for a victory. No, the object is to win the game no matter how you do it. And then we'll correct those things the next day."

How much has it lifted their spirits?

I told you guys last week, their spirits weren't down. It was down but we had 12 days to heal those wounds. These young men, contrary to popular belief, have a lot of character. You have to have that when you lose two games on the last play of the game. You have to have that. You have to have the firm belief that you're going to win. These kids have it. Now, there is no question that it helps to come away [with a win]. Reggie Ball had a phenomenal game in the second half. Phenomenal. But he needed three more. He needed three more and didn't get it. If he would have gotten those three more, we were driving to the airport and the bus would have been silent. The plane would have been silent. When we landed, they would have thought there were corpses on there. Three yards. Three yards. Same game. Same game.

Clemson is in the same situation. They could be 5-0 or even 0-5. Has it ever been to this extent where every game it seems is this close?

I think it's been that way with about all the games we've played, since I've been here. We couldn't get Jay Davis in the game when Philip was here because we couldn't pull away from them, because we weren't playing very good defense for a couple years. Then we got him in a couple of times and Jay probably, if he wouldn't have gotten in another game, would have gone down in history of being the best completion percentage because he was 10 of 10. It's been that way. One of these years we're going to learn how to kill a fly with an ax. We've just got to make sure we use that right end to kill that fly.

Talk about the gut check for your defense on that last drive by Georgia Tech. They called timeout, and it looked like your guys were pretty tired.

It's one play at a time baby. One play at a time. What happened the play before, two plays before, doesn't mean anything. It's one play at a time. And that was it. We practice goal-line every week. Every day we're in full pads. That could be twice a week, and we get on that dadgum goal-line and it's live. It's a goal-line attitude and nobody is going to get in when we're in that. We're going to force them to have to throw the ball to score. Yeah, you could almost sense what might was going to happen, and it did. Hey, we had him doubled and we still lost him. He had his hands on the ball, I saw him have his hands on the ball. Then I saw his feet come up. I saw the ball come out of his hands. Then I didn't know what happened after that. I didn't know what happened after that. I didn't know if he came back down on it or who got it. And they did.

They could have just said, "Forget about it. It's going to happen." Does that make it look like they have poor spirits? Not at all. That's character.

How gassed was your defense at the end of the game, especially your defensive line?

That's a bad word to use.

OK, how tired were they?

Very. How tired would you be if just played two snaps in a row? Very. No, they played I think 47 snaps in the first half. But we helped them on those two punts that we allowed them to have the ball back and we had to come back out on the field. One, we actually gained field position by doing it, but we lost time off the clock. They were tired. But that's the great thing about playing a game, and it comes down to a gut check. Whose gut is going to check the hardest? Can you make one more play? Can somebody make one more play? We had an opportunity to put them down on two or three occasions, and we didn't – Reggie Ball – on that drive. Can somebody make just one more play? And we did.

Can you talk about the play of Stephen Tulloch on your defense?

Stephen is an outstanding linebacker. Stephen is getting a little more disciplined in some of the things he does on the field. He is such a playmaker. He sees so much that sometimes he gets into trouble because he has great, great vision. He's a youngster, that if he was that much taller (about an inch or two), he probably wouldn't be here, because a lot of other people would have recruited him. And when they heard we were recruiting him, they tried to get on him, but it was already over. That much. Isn't that crazy? That much. He's good and means a lot to us … [Size] didn't prevent Sam Mills from playing. There are a lot of them up there, a lot more than you think because they fib about heights and weights even up there.

Talk about Oliver Hoyte's play against Tech, especially on that last drive, if he doesn't make the tackle, Reggie Ball gets in.

There's no question. If he doesn't make the tackle. But that's negative. He made the tackle. That's why he eats on the training table. To make tackles. That's what linebackers are there for.

And he had to shed a running back as well before making the tackle.

That's exactly right. That's the way offenses they normally do. They're going to try and block you. You've got to shed a block and go make a play, and he did it. It was huge, really. All the things that Marcus Hudson did and everything else in the kicking game, on top of the best wide receiver probably in all of America, but somebody had to make a play and he made it. And it gave us an opportunity to be able to have someone make another play.

Why is height a big deal? Why does it matter for linebackers to say be 6-1 instead of 5-11?

Well, you'd rather have them be 6-1. But if you're a good player. I can remember my first year at Florida State, and I was recruiting. There was a team in the playoffs that was playing down there in Miami and I was going down to watch them in the playoff game … One of the coaches had the other team. He said, "Watch this kid. He plays slot on offense and he's a linebacker on defense." So I come back and I say, "That kid is a natural linebacker." [They ask] "What do you think about his size?" And I said, "I don't care about his size. He's just a natural. Just in his stance he looks natural. And he sees and he's tough." I said, "You mean if that's much taller (and inch or two), we'd offer him a scholarship?" I said, "We're crazy if we don't." His name was Paul McGowan. He won the Butkus Award. And we were tinkering of whether we were going to offer him a scholarship for that much (an inch). I said. "We'll put lifts in his shoes to get him a little bit taller.

Sure, you'd like to have them [taller] but we're playing college football. We're not playing in the NFL. We're playing college football. We're trying to get the best kids that can come and help us play college football. Because someone who is short has something else that's a positive – vision, instincts, the natural instincts, which those two guys definitely have.

What are your thoughts on Clemson and QB Charlie Whitehurst?

Y'all know how good he is. Last year, you can erase the tape on that one. Y'all had him picked to win Heisman Trophies and well-deserving All-ACC in the preseason. Well-deserving because he's good. Now, I think he might only have three interceptions this year at this point. Last year, that might have been doubled. But he's playing with an awful lot of leadership and confidence. Not that he didn't last year – don't get me wrong. I really feel he doesn't care if they throw 60 times or they throw six times. He just wants to win.

Do you think Clemson will come out with the same mindset that you did on Thursday, considering they've lost three close games?

Knowing Tommy like I do and having been around him, and him being around his father, and he being around my step-father, that he will do nothing but accentuate the positive things and make them come up here with the feeling they are 5-0. That they are going to come into this stadium and feel like they are 5-0 even though they are not. That's the only thing that counts, is how you feel when the game starts and how you play. They'll come up here and play hard because they are a good football team. Another good football team that their record may not show it. Boston College, overtime. Miami, overtime. Good football team.

Is this life in the new ACC?

It is. They beat a good football team in Texas A&M, a good football team. Some people had them picked to win [their conference]. They still might out there. They beat a good Maryland football team as we're seeing. They'll be confident because they are youngsters. Tommy will get them ready there is no doubt about it.

Talk about John McCargo. Every time you watch him, he's just dominating centers. He seems to have a rare blend of speed and the ability to be physical at the same time?

John McCargo just keeps getting better and better and better. It's now the better he gets at the technical aspect of playing defensive tackle, the better he's going to perform. He's started working on really coming off the ball and playing run, run, run, run, run. And then you can convert to pass so much easier. But he's starting to play with his knees bent and his back flat. He is so quick. His hat speed across the ball is so quick that when we he reads the football, I mean I just worry at times that he jumps so fast that we'll get called for offsides and he really wasn't because sometimes the other ones don't go as quick as him.

How does he get that ability to jump in so fast?

I've been coaching the heck out of him, I really have. It's an ability the Good Lord gave it to him. Really, he was a fullback in high school and played a little linebacker. He thinks he's a skilled person. One of the plays on the goal-line, we had a little stunt, and he came around the outside and he jumped up in the air to knock a pass down. He had a pretty good vertical jump on that one, I think it was around three and a half inches. But he's an athletic kid, and those are the kind of players that I like to have on the defensive line.

Talk about developing depth on the offensive line.

We'll, where we're at is they are getting better every week. We can't afford to have anybody miss anything. And the depth is not deep as it is on most teams. We've got to be careful even what we do in practice. I'm one that likes to be physical, football is a contact game, but we've got to watch the reps on some things that we do. I've actually pulled off here or there just to make sure people are going to be able to play on Saturday, or in this case Thursday. We've got put him in, McKeon. He's almost like Sean Locklear was a few years ago. He can play at any one of the positions, center, guard or tackle. He can play them all. And we've got a couple of young guys behind him that are going to be good; they are not ready.

We noticed you had McKeon at right guard. Was Herndon having any difficulties?

No, we wanted to keep those three guards in; we did a lot of movement with all three of them. And we only had 51 snaps offensively. It's funny yesterday, I told the defense that I would meet them early, and then I'd meet the offense after that. Then I got to thinking, because we got in about four in the morning. I should have done it the other way around because the offense only had about half as many as plays to grade than the defense did.

You know what, a youngster can really watch from the sideline and see what is going on. Sometimes he might pick up something the coaches are trying to tell him to see that he might be missing out there when he's doing it.

Talk about the play of JJ Jones and DaJuan Morgan as they rotated in after Miguel Scott's injury?

You know, JJ has been playing quite a bit and DaJuan was actually a starter back in two-a-days until he got hurt. We feel very happy about what they've done. Now, we can't afford to have any of them or Garland Heath hurt. Especially because all I have to do is put Garland on the goal-line. He's intercepted a couple down there. They are coming along real good. A lot of confidence in them.

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