Bobby Bowden - Florida State
Q: If there is a positive for the defense, is it that for the second week in a row, they've held up on the other team's final possession?
Bowden: Yeah, that's exactly right. And that might be the closest thing to positive that came out of it for the defense. Now, there's one thing that's happened. It happened against Miami, it happened against South Florida ? Mickey makes his first substitution [at cornerback], puts a freshman in there, and there he goes. That's at least twice I can remember that happening. Again, that's having to play freshmen too early.
About the NC State game:
You know the game with NC State is like all the other ones we have played. We have played 8 ball games and every one of them has come down to the last drive. Either the other team takes it and beats you or either you take it and beat them. Every one of them, this was no different. The last two was just like the rest of them except we won them."
Q: Like you said the week before against North Carolina, you finally won a fourth quarter?
Bowden: Yeah and we did. You know, we always say you've got to win the fourth quarter and that's what happens. You either win the fourth quarter or you don't, in a close game. You know this is the most different year I could ever remember, every game has been tight. Usually there is somebody that beats you pretty good, then there is someone you beat pretty good. But this one has been 60 minutes and you can't tell who is going to win it and that's different.
Q: You ran the ball well on Saturday, and you also didn't give up any sacks. Is this offensive line where you thought it would be?
Bowden: They are where you would hope they would be. I've really been pleased. If you can keep them from getting our quarterback and open some running holes, you can outscore what they do. It's kind of who had that ball last, really.
Q: After the NC State game, you gave a lot of credit to the line, probably more than you did to the running backs. But Jermaine Thomas seemed to be running pretty well.
Bowden: And he did. You know, as I sit there on the sidelines, a lot of times I'll see him run, and I'll see a lane open over here, and he don't see it, and he goes another way. And I'm thinking, 'Dadgummit, why didn't you slash back?' Well, you can't see all that on the field. Then when you look back at the film, you see he's making better cuts than you realize. He was probably making a lot better cuts than I realized.
Q: Looking at Clemson, C.J. Spiller is really having another great year there. How tough is he to defend?
Bowden: Probably more so than any back in the conference. There's probably not many backs that are more dangerous than him in going all the way, because he is so fast. You watch him run. Anybody that can run into the line - Peter Warrick could do this - could run into the middle and you have him bottled up, and he still could run for a touchdown all the way around the end. So fast. This guy's the same way.
Could you talk a little bit about the leadership of Christian Ponder?:
Well, he is the number one leader on our football team both offensively and defensively. All of our boys believe in him. All of our boys know that he is paying a physical price out there; he is not one of these fancy quarterbacks that don't like to get hit. He gets hit and he will run the ball and stick it up in there. You see him do it time after time. He jeopardizes his body and other kids see that and they will follow it.
About Clemson's quick players:
C.J. Spiller and Ford, both of them will be seniors this year, both of them are sprint champions and they are dangerous on the long play. I think I read it correctly that Spiller has scored at least one 60 yard one, every game this year. Either kickoff return, punt return, running the ball or catching the ball."
Bowden: They have won four in a row and they are really on a streak. They beat Miami at Miami and I think that built a lot of confidence up with them. Their game came to the last and they won it. Our game came to the last with them and we lost it. So, they are deserving of their wins and they are really good right now.
Q: Is Spiller the biggest concern going into that game against Clemson?
Bowden: He's the starting place. The thing that they have done ? the two things I've seen this year that really were kind of like having an inside straight [in poker] and you draw it and get it. It's the quarterback at Boston College. I saw their first two games; it was obvious that quarterback can't do it. So then they got this [David Shinskie], when I saw him play the week before us, I said, "Uh oh, they found their quarterback." He can throw. Then I watched Clemson the first of the year. They started a redshirt freshman quarterback, and he was learning the hard way. Then all of a sudden he began to put it together. And I think they're on a four-game winning streak now. They filled their straight out with that quarterback. Because they've got two of the best skill people in the country with [Jacoby] Ford and Spiller.
Q: You haven't won at Clemson since 2001. It's been awhile. How tough is it to win there?
Bowden: It's tough, but you've just got to go play your best. That's all there is to it. You know ? we played Clemson up there in '97 or '98, Peter Warrick scores on about an 85-yard punt return. Peter Warrick catches an 80-yard touchdown pass. Peter Warrick runs a short pass for a touchdown. He scores about three times, and we win by seven. Now without Peter Warrick, we wouldn't have won that dang game. So sometimes, one guy can make you. One guy. Or maybe it's two. How close are we? I don't know, but probably a lot closer than we think.
Q: Can you talk about your relationship with Dabo Swinney? Have you gotten to talk to him much since he was moved in to replace Tommy at Clemson?
Bowden: He's from Birmingham like I am. Of course I'm from another generation. But some of my best friends in Birmingham also know his family pretty good. Of course, Tommy's the one that helped raise him when Tommy was an assistant at Alabama. And then Tommy took him to Clemson. But he's going to do a good job. Of course, Kevin Steele is up there too. Brad Scott. Brad Scott's son is coaching receivers.
Q: Where are you at with the defense? It doesn't seem like they've made any progress, and they've struggled against all different types of offenses.
Bowden: You're at a point where you're waiting for them to come together. It seems like when the line plays good, the secondary doesn't play good. When the secondary plays good, the line doesn't play good. We play bad one half. We play good the next half. When are we going to get 60 minutes of football out of the defense, where it's all together. And yet, you could turn the thing around and say, "Hold it, what happened to their defense?" Whatever happened to ours also happened to theirs. And then you say, what happened to Southern Cal's defense. We're all having problems with the spread. You know, football goes in cycles. The defense for 10 years will play real good. Then the offense will figure out what they're doing, and then all of a sudden they'll take over for 10 years. Then the defense will get that figured out and they'll take over. It seems like it goes in cycles. And right now we're in a spread cycle. Defenses are having their hands full. Defenses will eventually find out ... they'll come up with a plan that eventually will change what all these dadgum scores are.
Q: With the way the ACC has been so topsy-turvy this season, does that give you hope that you can get back in the championship race?
Bowden: We can only take care of what we can take care of, and that's who we play. This ballgame coming up is the biggest one. However, if you win it, the next one becomes the biggest one.
Q: How hard would that be for you to coach next year without Mickey?
Bowden: Yeah, if it did happen, it would be the first time in 26 years. Mickey deserves as much of the success as anybody. His great defenses are what really made the difference. Because there's a lot of good offensive teams in the country. But teams that play defense consistently are probably the ones that keep winning.
Dabo Swinney - Clemson
Opening Statement: It was a good win last week. I thought our team responded well to an emotional win at Miami and went back to work. For the most part we played well, and it is always good to play a lot of guys. It has been good to have some film to get after some of those backups. I think from that standpoint it was a very productive week.
This week is a conference game so it is a big game for both teams. Our focus continues to be on just trying to get better as a football team and keep working toward our goals. I Look forward to seeing Coach Bowden. He is a legend. I grew up following great coaches like Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno. This opportunity is a thrill.
Offensively this team is extremely dangerous. Their whole team as of late has gotten it to together and is playing great football. They are scoring a lot of points and are the number-one offense in the league. They try to get the ball out quickly and into space and are a talented bunch.
They have a veteran offensive line and it is a talented bunch. They are very impressive when you watch them on film. Christian Ponder is what makes them go. This guy is as good as any we have played. It is just another big challenge for us defensively. He likes to run the football, and that is one thing that worries me. He runs with purpose. He is a tough guy, can make all the throws and doesn't get sacked very often. We will have to do a great job affecting the quarterback. We have to get him out of his comfort zone.
For us it always starts with stopping the run. In this game, in particular, it will be critical for us to tackle in space. That is a big time factor in this ball game. We always are looking to create turnovers. We have done a good job in that area this year and that has to continue this week. We have to create turnovers and create momentum defensively.
We have to do a good job of managing the chunk plays (long plays, chunks of yardage). That is something we have to do a better job of. It goes back to tackling in space, playing technique and fundamentals, doing the right thing from an alignment standpoint, playing with your eyes and trying to contain those big plays. They are going to make some plays, but we have to make them go the distance. We can't let them get big scores.
Their defense is very aggressive, athletic and talented. They have outstanding linebackers, and a bunch of veteran guys in the secondary. The defensive line has had some injuries and they have had to play some young guys up front that are very talented. They are getting those guys back together so we will have to execute. We can't beat ourselves and I think Kyle Parker will need to have another big game, play well, make plays and continue his maturity. This is another great opportunity and hopefully be a big step for him.
Special teams will be critical. Coverage will be important and ball security on special teams will be important.
They are a good team, but it is more about us. We are good enough. We don't make excuses. We just try to focus on getting better. Just having a great week of focus and preparation is what we are trying to do. The most excited team is not going to win. The most prepared team is going to win and the team that executes the best will win. I tell the guys not to get caught up in the hype of the ball game because we have a job to do.
We are a 5-3 football team that just needs to get better and we have an opportunity to do that. I also think it is important that the kids have some fun. This is a fun game to be a part of. I hope it is a sellout. I will be disappointed if there is an empty seat in Death Valley on Saturday. I hope it is that kind of atmosphere.
I am excited about Lucas Glover running down the hill with us. It is not often that someone from your school wins a major championship.
Update on Da'Quan Bowers:
He looked pretty good yesterday. He seems to be responding well and in great spirits. He wants to play, but I don't see him playing this week. Beyond that I don't know, if he keeps improving like he has then I think we will get him back quicker than later. Yesterday was a good day for him.
On guys that have opportunity to step up in Bower's absence:
If you go back and look at our play counts these guys have played a lot. We roll those guys pretty freely up front. We have been a fortunate football team as far as injuries. Da'Quan is a great player but we do have depth there. Malliciah Goodman has played a lot of meaningful snaps. Kevin Alexander started a bunch of games. Alexander will continue to play what he has been. He and Malliciah will have to man it themselves.
Andre Branch has been playing behind Sapp and he has done a great job for us. He is capable of swinging either side. I think we will be fine. We have good players there. I hate that Bowers can't play because you want all the good players you can at your disposal but I am very confident in those guys.
Q: Has Michael Palmer gotten back into contact?
Swinney: He will get some today. We were just in vests last night and today he will do some pad work. He will practice today. He has been cleared. You never know until you see how he responds. Scotty Cooper was cleared and he didn't respond well so you never know. Terrence Ashe will be back. Kantrell Brown is doing much better. They are clearing him to practice this week. They will hold him another ball game because they want to evaluate him after a week of contact.
On Bobby Bowden:
I don't know all the details about that. I can tell you that Coach Bowden ought to be able to coach as long as he wants to. Florida State wouldn't be on the map if it weren't for Bobby Bowden. He is as classy a man as you will ever meet. He started coaching in the 1950s and that is just mind boggling to me. He has been a good father and mentor to people. He is very sharp and witty.
Q: Will there ever be a Paterno or Bowden?
Swinney: Maybe. It will be a lot harder. People just aren't patient anymore. There is so much more pressure and money. Expectations keep going up, and the time with players keeps getting less, so your opportunity to coach them goes down. With the ups and downs of college football it makes it hard. Now you have scholarship limitations and you will lose some recruits because of that. I think the schools that are patient in the long haul do the best.