Seminoles' Defensive Depth 'Best Ever'
CLEMSON - Funny what a victory will do for a coach in terms of national exposure.
After beating his father for the first time in five tries a year ago, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden this week has talked more to the regional and national media about Florida State than any season except 1999, the very first Bowden Bowl.
Yes, the dedication of the Bobby Bowden statue outside Doak Campbell Stadium has had something to do with it, but so did last year's impressive 26-10 victory.
"The previous couple of years when we lost, the interest level dropped off a little," Bowden said following Wednesday's practice. "But we won last year, so naturally I think the interest increases. The statue dedication is part of it, but I think the biggest thing is we finally beat them."
Bowden also spoke to Bobby on Tuesday night, and came away sorry he picked up the phone.
The elder Bowden's message?
The Seminoles' depth on defense is as good as it's ever been since Bobby showed up in Tallahassee.
"He told me on the phone that his second team is as good as his first," Tommy said. "I think he said this is the deepest he has ever been defensively - ever - since he's been there; 28 years. Miami's a 10-win team, or whatever they are, and it took them 59 minutes to score a touchdown."
Any chance the old man's just messing with the son's mind?
"Oh no. I watched the tape," Bowden said with a laugh.
With a healthy Duane Coleman back in the running back mix full time, the Tigers' already crowded backfield now becomes downright stuffed.
Coleman continues to work his way back into shape, and should split time with Reggie Merriweather, Kyle Browning and Yusef Kelly - who is back from a one-game suspension. Asked who would start if the game was played today, Bowden said he wasn't sure.
"I still have to look at it," he said. "Duane is healthy now and I don't want to punish him for being hurt that long. But I don't want to punish the other guys for being out there and being healthy. It's hard to get four (backs) work."
But will all four play Saturday? When asked about Coleman's conditioning, Bowden's answer seemed to suggest only three would see action.
"To play in a three-deep rotation (Coleman is healthy)," he said. "Playing a third of the game, 20 minutes instead of 60."
Wednesday's practice was another spirited event, yelling, whooping and trash talk easily audible even at the entrance of the Jervey practice facility.
Bowden was happy with the intensity, even if he worries that the team may peak too soon.
"You don't want to play the game on Wednesday," he said. "But still you've got to go out there with a lot of enthusiasm and have it carry over to the game. You've got to be able to go out there Saturday after Saturday with your 'A' game. You can't show up with your 'B' game and expect to compete.
"We showed up with our 'B' game in Texas and got beat."
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.