CLEMSON - Upon further review, protection wasn't necessarily the cause of the kicking malfunctions which plagued Clemson Saturday night in Tallahassee.
One day after the Tigers' 27-20 victory at No. 9 Florida State, head coach Tommy Bowden said most of the problem on the two blocked kicks - which led directly to nine FSU points - was a slower than usual approach by kicker Jad Dean.
"His get-off time was too slow," Bowden said during his Sunday teleconference. "His get off time was 1.4 (seconds). It has to be 1.22, 1.23 or 1.24 max. His was 1.4. We have to speed up the procedure."
Bowden said he believes the problem stems from when Dean begins his approach on the ball. Instead of moving forward at the moment holder Cole Chason flashes his hand to call for the snap, Dean has been waiting until the ball is nearly placed.
The timing may seem incidental, but fractions of a second are the difference between a kick getting underway successfully and Tony Carter racing the opposite direction twice for scores.
The biggest puzzle may be why Dean has slipped into such a habit.
"Jad is so bent on being the No. 1 kicker in the nation, and lack of success kills him," Bowden said. "Sometimes you get to experimenting. You say, 'okay, if I was No. 2 last year, maybe if I do this, this or this I can improve. You remember Tiger Woods a few years ago, when he began experimenting with his grip, his swing, and he went into a slump.
"I can see it happening."
In other news Sunday:
- Bowden said any personal gratification he may have after defeating his father's team for the third time in four years is overshadowed by what the victories mean to the school and its fans.
"When your at a school where my son has graduated from, my daughter getting ready to graduate from, and this is my eighth year employed here, you get attached to the school and work hard to try and achieve what they want to achieve," he said. "The fans have been really supportive, traveling on the road to cheer for us. I think more of it in terms of that sense, rather than personal gratification."
- Bowden said his most difficult challenge, from a motivation standpoint, would be this week when North Carolina comes to town.
"I said I thought my biggest motivation problem would be after third week. People have been writing we would know where we are after three games...We're going to be favored. I think motivation is going to be a huge factor.
"I'm not as concerned about confidence as I am emotion. We're going to be favored, and in the past we've played down to the competition in this situation. We have to come out and play with emotion and energy. Coming home after two games on the road, the fans will be there, it will be a sellout. We have to respond."