Statistics a Double-edged Sword for Bowden

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Statistics are for losers.

It's an old football axiom, and one that Tommy Bowden himself believes in

Yet the Clemson head coach also is quick to pull out plenty of numbers when
referring to his team's progress in a season that has quickly deteriorated
from a 3-1, upbeat beginning to a .500 record and much sniping among fans
about the direction of the program.

He talks about quarterback Willie Simmons' completion percentage, the weekly
increase - until last Saturday at Virginia, anyway - in total yardage, and
defensive numbers which rank the Tigers No. 10 in the country.

To fans, many of whom have been voicing their displeasure on local sports
talk radio over Clemson's recent play, such statistical talk can come across
as Bowden making excuses.

But he, more than anyone, understands the only thing that matters is the
bottom line.

"I would say the phrase 'statistics are for losers' is very accurate," he
said following Tuesday's rain-induced indoor workout. "What I try to use
statistics for is for evaluation of personnel. Missed tackles, missed
assignments, average yards per play - I use them more for evaluation. When I
was asked about the play of my quarterback (during his Tuesday press
conference), that's why I was giving those numbers.

"But people are going to read that, and because of lack of space - and I know
you'd never do this on purpose - (reporters) might write half of my answer,
so it would be perceived by some people as making excuses. Statistics are
insignificant if you lose the game. But they're very important for evaluating

He continued to explain.

"The offensive statistics we had at 3-1 aren't as good as we are now at 3-3.
But in the evaluation of if you need to do a whole reconstruction of what
you're doing, (the answer is) no. We just have to find out why we're not
scoring points (Clemson is No. 7 in ACC scoring at 27.7 points per game).

"But again you take all those things into context. "When I mention this year
and last year, we're halfway through the season with what you lost (from the
2001 team and injuries in 2002), as the head coach I've got to look at that
and block out the other."


- The day-long rain kept Clemson from two very important aspects of its
practice routine - its heaviest day of live hitting and live work with the
kicking game.

Bowden said he did spend alignment/assignment time on the punting game, but
obviously wasn't able to have walk-on Kyle Tucker kick in full-speed
conditions. He plans to watch Tucker today and Thursday before deciding if he
will replace struggling senior Wynn Kopp Saturday against Wake Forest.

- The indoor workout also failed to show if the injured Tigers - wide
receiver Kevin Youngblood (hip), offensive tackle Gary Byrd (sprained knee
and ankle), and running backs Yusef Kelly (groin), Bernard Rambert (bruised
ribs) and Chad Jasmin (groin) had made any progress.

"Youngblood was the only one who didn't do anything today," Bowden said.
"He's still the furthest away."

Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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