Dec. 31, 2000
Jacksonville, Fla. –On Sunday morning, the Gator Bowl conducted a press conference. Below are highlights of Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden’s comments to the media.
TOMMY BOWDENGeneral Comments I know speaking for our team and our staff, we are about ready to play the game. We have spent a week in the hotel living out of a suitcase, I know we are ready to go. Probably both teams are that way.
We have had a good week of preparation. We were forced inside one time. The biggest concern I think is with what we do offensively. With the skill level and timing involved, throwing and catching, we weren’t sharp the first day we came down here. We went inside the second day, but once we got outside we picked up a little bit throwing and catching. We are going to have to be pretty efficient to be successful against Virginia Tech.
We come into the game in pretty good shape with health physically. We lost two guys for the game and for spring ball, but they should be back practicing in August.
I think the key to our game is number one to somehow, not stop Michael Vick, but control him. Instead of allowing him to rush for 150 to 160, hold him to about 80 yards. The offensive line and tailback, keep their efficiency to a minimum, then either winning or tying the kicking game.
Will this be a high scoring game? If you follow our season, we struggled and did not fare well offensively when we played good people. Started with North Carolina, a fairly talented team in our conference, Georgia Tech, Florida State and South Carolina. We were not real productive against those teams offensively. Most of that had to do with talent level. The talent level of those teams was elevated above teams we played earlier in the season.
Virginia Tech being rated fifth is a really talented team and very aggressive on defense. I don’t see a lot of points scored on our end, but the key is not to turn it over. I hope Rod Gardner makes some catches, Woody makes some plays and the defense gets some turnovers. If Virginia Tech turns the ball over and plays uninspired then we have a chance to score some points.
On the kicking game: We spend a lot of time on the kicking game regardless if we play Virginia Tech or anybody in our conference. The fact that they have had so much success blocking kicks and returning kicks, it makes you pretty focused during the amount of time that you have to work. We really didn’t increase our time allotment because I think we hardly can. I think at Clemson in two years we have spent a lot of time on the kicking game. It has really made us focused and really concentrate on assignments because of their success, but no extra time, but the time we have spent has been pretty serious.
Has last year’s game helped in preparation? No not really. Their style is similar on defense. There is a little wrinkle here and there because of personnel losses. Michael Vick turned the ball over last year, but he was relatively inexperienced, it was his first year playing and it was early in the season. Now he has had a year under his belt and he is making better decisions now and not turning the ball over as much. So there is really not much we can take out of last year, other than the fact that they rushed for about 200 yards against us in the first half last year. We can’t let that happen again.
Having a month to prepare for Michael Vick: There is really not much of an advantage for the simple fact that the plays we have designed for Woody are designed plays. We pull a guard, we fake here, they are designed plays. A lot of Michael Vick’s plays come through a breakdown or a receiver being covered, breakdown in a route or a breakdown in protection and he takes off. Those things you really can’t scheme. A lot of these plays, there is no rhyme or reason why this happened. Where as ours are a little bit easier to defend because they are designed traps, draws, counters to Woody, which you can pattern read and recognize in the formation.
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