Tommy Bowden Weekly Press Conference Highlights


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PRESS CONFERENCE AUDIO
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Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden on ...


Father vs. son

"The preparation doesn't change as far as the amount of time spent in
meetings and on the field. As far as the father-son thing, after the
first one, some of the shine and glamour is gone. Now it is more
about preparation for a well-coached, talented team. That's more of
the focus. Now the novelty is his hat. "


Florida State's two losses

"Florida State has had a couple of scenarios that they have never had
to deal with before. They started the year with an an inexperienced
quarterback, they have had season-ending injuries, similar to what
we've had, and the abundance of turnovers with an inexperienced
quarterback.. At halftime of the Miami game, Miami had five first
downs and nine yards rushing. There were some turnovers by Florida
State and that made the difference.


Key to the game

"I would say turnovers are going are going to be a key factor. We've
got to keep the ball some, convert some third downs and move it. We
have to stay out of long yardage situations. Things that you normally
have to do against a very good team, we're going to have to do. There
are a lot of teams out there that are equal to us, so we have to do
that every week.


Beating Bobby Bowden

"Only being a head coach for five years, you're looking to get some
respect in the profession. He's one of the top coaches around. If you
ever beat a Florida State team you've defeated a highly talented,
well-coached, well-motivated team. It usually takes good preparation,
great effort by your players, no turnovers and things like that. It
wouldn't be father beating son or son beating father, it would be
respect for this program, Clemson, and it's another step we have to
take.


Players attitudes

"The players, their attention span, is pretty good during this week.
It's not one you really have to motivate them for.


Last year

"Anytime you lose on TV badly, it's embarrassing. I can't think of
any head coach, Paterno, Osborne, LaVell Edwards, my father, that it
hasn't happened to. They were embarrassed, and I get embarrassed. You
can either quit the profession or choose to move on.


Florida State offense

"They're going to run the ball and they're going to throw deep. They
could go deep on first, second or third down. Their lines are very
big, their backs are talented and their receivers are talented.
Talman Gardner is one we recruited at Tulane. He was a first team
Parade All-American, had been there three or four years and hadn't
played. He's just now coming into his own. They have a couple go
down, and the one that goes in there is player of the week last week.


South Carolina Seminoles

"Chris Hope, he's as good a safety as we've seen. He's as good a
safety as we'll face if not the best. , Brad and I had Michael
Boulware convinced he could play wideout, he wanted to play wideout.
They were going to play him at wideout, and now he's caught two
passes for interceptions as a linebacker. He's a good player. We
would have loved to have him and Chris Hope and Greg Jones and all
the other ones that have been going down there.


Defending recruiting turf

"I think it gave us some credibility in the Southeast when we signed
Crosby and Currie last year. Just the perception, really helped us
from a recruiting standpoint. That probably was one of the factors in
the administration making a commitment to improve the facilities by
saying, 'If these guys can close the gap without them, just think
about what we can do when we start construction and complete the
project.' Signing those guys last year and beating Florida State
head-to-head in this state was something that hadn't been done by us
in a while and was very instrumental from a national image
standpoint. I think we've really reaped some benefits here with the
commitment the administration has made from a facilities standpoint."


BONUS COVERAGE:
FLORDIA STATE - Bobby Bowden on ......


Can you talk about your early struggles?

Youth and inexperience and the fact that we struggle. Just a
miss here and a miss there. Then, the talent eventually shows up.
If this football team had the same talent with more maturity, maybe
we wouldn't have to struggle like we're having to struggle. Not that
we won't have to struggle every year. Games are coming harder now.
They're becoming harder for us to win 'em. That ballgame (Saturday
night) -- you look at the final score and you say, boy, Florida State
really beat 'em. But it was 31-31 with 12 minutes left. It can go
either way, because we're not showing the consistency of stopping
them. Then ours, thank goodness we're able to move the ball. Then
all of a sudden, our defense just shuts 'em down and shows you the
potential -- when we put it all together, this team's got ability,
talent, but they've got to grow up. We don't have the maturity, but
every week it should develop, you hope.


Was that the best ACC home game you've been involved in?

I can't remember a better one. Sure can't. There's not many
of them that we've been behind. We've had some great games with
North Carolina, once we beat them by 12 points or 10 points or 8, but
we stayed ahead the whole time. Georgia Tech (in 1999) -- that was a
great game, but even then, I don't think we ever got behind. They'd
score, we'd come back. There're games when your offense has to bail
your defense out. I think most coaches prefer a defense that can
hold people and you can play field position and kick the ball and do
some things like that. But the times when they struggle, like we did
with Georgia Tech, thank goodness the offense came to the rescue.
Last night, our offense came to the rescue, and then our defense
climbed up. We need to find the consistency we need to go with the
talent. You can see the talent level there.


What went through your mind early in the fourth quarter with the game
still tied?


I wondered if we were going to win nearly all the way up
until we were at least two (touchdowns) ahead, and I was probably
still sweating that a little bit. I was thinking, this thing could
go either way. I was wondering who's gonna win this thing. I could
see 'em hitting a quick strike, and getting an onside kick. Two
touchdowns -- when we're ahead by two touchdowns, thoughts still
always run through my mind -- if they can hit something quick, and
then get an onside kick, we can lose it.


Were you confident that you could put up that many points against
Maryland?


No, I wasn't, because I had seen film on them, and they had
played so well and so doggedly on defense -- remember, they go to
Atlanta and hold Georgia Tech to 17 points. Tech is a dadgum good
offensive football team. They've got two great receivers, a good
runner -- a good football team. To do it right down in Atlanta, and
hold them down pretty good, and just keep scoring and scoring, and
leading the nation in takeaways -- not leading the nation, but pretty
close. I'm wondering if we can execute good enough to put more
points up than they do, whatever that is. But the thing that's
beginning to kick in good with us is our running game. I like what I
see there. It was tough -- they're pretty good against the run.
They're determined to stop it. They're one of those teams that's
going to bring everbody up there. We broke them down with our
passing game, and then got to running. That's the way most modern
football is played these days. You saw in Nebraska and Oklahoma --
Nebraska had to start throwing the ball. Once they started throwing
the ball, then that running game started going. Nebraska was back to
its old self. Last year, they tried to run the ball and couldn't do
it. Oklahoma wasn't going to let them run that ball.


Were you impressed with Chris Rix's performance yesterday?

Well, it's like this. The Maryland coach said, and we said
it, if you beat us, you've got to use that quarterback. You ain't
going to beat us with your running game. We're going to bring
everybody up and make you throw the ball. If you don't want to throw
it, good. It'll be 1-2-3-punt, 1-2-3-punt. That's the way football
is, nowadays. Joe Paterno's quarterback is beginning to produce.
You can't just beat people running the ball anymore. Nebraska can't,
and they run as good as anybody in the country. We had some early
drops, and I think we finally started solving that thing.


Did you see something out of Chris Rix this week that you hadn't seen
from him before?

I didn't see the ball on the ground as much. (laughs) I
think that was the key on him. The key on him, at this early stage,
is learning what to do, and then don't turn the ball over. A couple
of times he ran and it scared me a little bit. I was afraid they
were fixing to knock it right outta there. He's learning now, to
protect that ball. He threw one of his famous lob passes into
coverage, which you can't do. But he's cut his mistakes down.
That's called experience, and I expect him to get better with that
every week. You can see the talent.


Are you worried that the Clemson game will be a high-scoring one?

Both of us, like so many teams in the country, I guess, are
dependent on our quarterback being hot. If he ain't -- it's hard to
move that ball. Both of us are going to be dependent on the
quarterback moving the ball. That's probably true with anybody --
Florida's probably that way with Grossman. Miami with the
quarterback they've got. We stopped their running game, couldn't
stop that quarterback. We'll have to have a great plan for him.
North Carolina had a great plan. I haven't looked at the film.
They've got to stop our quarterback, we've got to stop theirs.


Clemson's a tough place to play -- are you concerned about bringing a
young team in there?

We've gotten outta there with one-touchdown wins before. I
think that the year that Peter Warrick caught all those touchdown
passes up there and ran up 300-400 yards on punt returns and
everything else -- I think we only beat them by a touchdown. If Pete
don't make one of those, we could lose. They're tough up there, no
doubt about it. It's their home, and their fans get into it real
good, got a great home environment.


Does it seem to you that Clemson is just looking for one big win to
get them over the hump?

He's had kind of a tough year. They've had a lot of
injuries. Dantzler is so dependent upon receivers -- they're going
to have four wideouts out there nearly the whole time. If those guys
can't catch the ball, he's got problems. There, for a while, I know
Tommy lost three of his four top receivers. Lost a couple of them
for the year. He signed two outstanding freshman receivers -- we
tried to get both of 'em. One of them's been out all year, the other
one's playing with a limp, or something. I know he lost one of his
linebackers for the year. They played North Carolina, and their
safety's brother got killed in a wreck, so he didn't play that week
-- he's also their kickoff returner, punt returner. He's struggling
a little bit, probably, with injuries, too.


Have you talked more to Tommy this year, since you've both really
struggled with injuries?

We've talked a lot -- whether it's more or not, I'm not sure.
Could be. We've talked a lot. Talked to him about three times last
week. I just don't have time to go over there and hold his hand.
I'll probably be holding it this week. (laughs) Won't be if we
lose, I'll tell you that. (laughs)


Do you find yourself being more careful with Chris than other
quarterbacks you've had?


I do at this early age, because anything can happen. I keep
thinking about those days when Chris Weinke threw the 6
interceptions. Those days can crop up at any time. I'm very
cautious. I never worried about Chris Weinke his junior year or his
senior year. He had it down. He was going to make an intelligent
throw. Chris Rix is still learning that. Just like the pass that
went through the linebacker's hands for a touchdown. It won't always
work that way. Here's the thing about it. Chris wants to be a
leader. A freshman can't lead, until he gains the respect of his
teammates, which can only come through success. Most freshman
quarterbacks aren't going to be successful. How's he going to get
the leadership? He has to be so successful that they believe in him.
Games like yesterday will build that up. If he can continue that,
then he's in. Because you can depend on him. He's got a lot of
character. Off the field, I don't have to worry about him.


Does this Clemson game have a little different feel than the first
two, since both of those were for bigger stakes?


We've got more to lose. They've got more to gain. We're
still in a fight for the championship. We lose it, we're out.
Tommy's already lost two conference games, so he's out. But he could
get one of the biggest wins they've ever had up there by beating us
there. I'm sure he'll have them highly motivated.


What is it like to open the paper Sunday morning and see your name,
and Joe Paterno's name, moving up the list of all-time greats?

I imagine -- I don't know if Joe's the same way or not -- we
don't ever discuss it when we're together. You just can't believe
it. All my life, as a coach, and as a fan, I've always known about
Stagg, and Warner, and Rockne. All those guys. And they're always
way up there. And now, they're getting gone. Joe Paterno, Bear
Bryant. And now, here I am, hanging in there. I can not believe it.
Pop Warner -- he's one I've heard of all my life, but right now I
couldn't tell you where I coached.


Rix really went through a lot this week -- what does his performance
under all that pressure show you?

It shows you that he's got control of his life. He doesn't
have his whole life based on winning and losing and being a
successful quarterback. It means a lot to him, but I think that's
something that people need to figure out as they go through life.
Last week -- I told my players, when I talked to them Friday night, I
had every one of them's attention, I said, I've never been prouder of
two quarterbacks than I have these two. Both of them are freshmen.
But just by the statements they made to the press last week. Chris
Rix made statements like this: whatever the coaches believe, I trust
them, and I'll do what they say and what they think is best. And
that's coming from a guy that thinks you might put somebody in there
for him. Then the other one comes out and says, I think Rix oughta
start. I think he's the starting quarterback, I'm the backup. I
mean, man. That thing coulda gotten volatile. You'd get people
chosing sides. That's why I said, boy, their comments were
beautiful. Kids that young, I told the players, most guys that young
can't say that. They'll say, I deserve to start, I've started six
darned games here! Or t

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