Nov. 7, 2006
Team psyche after two losses to Virginia Tech and Maryland: “Our psyche seems to be pretty good. I’ve tried to help the team be realistic on where we are, where the program is, and what we’ve accomplished under the circumstances, and what’s left on the table. The problem we face now is that we don’t want a loss to affect us twice. We need an eight win (season). We’ve lost two in a row. So, I think it’s important that our team win another game and not worry so much about ‘what ifs’ as opposed to what is coming up on Saturday (against NC State).
We’re trying to promote a positive environment. It has been a relatively draining season. At this point in time, we’re the only team in the nation that has played five of the teams in this week’s top 25 of the AP poll. That is out of 119 teams. Our players have had to reach a high emotional level more so than any other team in the country. I don’t want them to think that everything is diminished. We need to win another game.”
On the performance of quarterback Will Proctor: “For a first-year starter I think he has done pretty well. If we were to stop the season today, he would have the sixth highest passing efficiency in the history of Clemson. He is just one-tenth of a point behind Charlie Whitehurst’s best season (135.6 to 135.5). He’s second in the conference in passing efficiency.
It there was one area he could improve it is his progression in reads when under pressure. If he makes better decisions under pressure, he’s probably going to throw for 75 or 80% passing which would be a record. You’re talking about a high level of efficiency. Right now he’s over 60% (in completion percentage) and making some good decisions. I would say if this was his second or third year starting he would be higher in efficiency.”
On the struggles of the running game: “A lot has to do with the competition. Virginia Tech and Maryland have good defensive players. They’re harder to block. They get off blocks quicker. The holes aren’t as open and they’re better tacklers. We’ve had some pretty productive running games with some superior talent. I’d hate to look at where we are offensively and defensively and say we have to reinvent the wheel because statistically we are doing pretty well.”
On back-up quarterbacks, Cullen Harper and Tribble Reese: “Experience is separating them right now (from Will Proctor). I think Cullen (Harper) and Tribble (Reese) are working to compete for the job. They’re red-shirt sophomores. They’ve got two more years of spring practices and more snaps and that’s probably the only thing separating them right now. Both those guys are pretty talented. Those guys are closing the gap because they’re getting more work so the biggest thing right now would be the number of snaps behind the center.”
On scoring in the red zone: “You’re not going to have a lot of red zone touchdowns against good teams. Maryland and Virginia Tech have very good defenses. We need to score touchdowns obviously. Had we done that against Maryland we would have won the game. We’re going to have to really study some ways to convert one of those drives to a touchdown.”
Mentality of running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller: “I know they’re highly competitive. I know they’re both productive, but I think they’re more disappointed in the losses than their own individual performance. They’re both doing a good job of showing energy and enthusiasm during practice. I’ve been very impressed with both of them. They have been averaging nearly 170 yards a game and had 131 against Maryland. That’s not too bad. We had 153 yards rushing against Maryland. Two years ago we would loved to have that many.
On injuries: “Injuries are a part of the game but it’s when you lose them and how long they’re out of the game. Obviously we’ve lost key guys with Anthony Waters, Tramaine Billie, Rendrick Taylor, Roman Fry, guys for the season. Of course when you lose some you’ve got to absorb it and players have to step up.”
On playing NC State: “They’re a good defense. They’re a team that obviously beat Florida State and Boston College back to back. They have to win this game to go to a bowl game because they have to win out the next three. This is a must win for them and I tell my team this as we prepare for and play on Saturday. We have told our players we are certainly going to get their A game because they have to win out.”
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