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    Sunday, November 12, 2006

    Q & A: Bobby Bowden

    The Sunday media conference with Bobby Bowden tells a tale of a coach that just doen't seem to get it. He blames the QBs for all the woes although the rushing yards were just 20 something yards. He is still talking about winning another national championship and staying until he does. Unbelievable!

    You've said after previous losses this season that you at least were encouraged that your team managed to keep it close enough to have a shot at winning. How does a loss like this figure into how you view your team in the bigger picture?

    Bowden: Well, that's the first blowout we've had ... A loss is a loss. That was the first time where we really got blown out. (We) couldn't answer any of their calls.

    But does that alter your opinion on how close the program is to getting back to where you want it to be?

    Bowden: What would you say about Auburn's program? What would you say about Auburn's program? Are they down and out? Is there program at the bottom? They got beat pretty good yesterday didn't they? So those things happen. It was unexpected.

    At what point last night did it seem like nothing was going to go right and you wouldn't be able to answer any of Wake Forest's touchdowns?

    Bowden: Well, we ... Was it our second drive or our first drive? We took it down to the five or six-yard line. We had a third-and-six inches. Then we had a procedure problem, so you get a five-yard penalty. Then you tack on a 15-yard for unsportsmanship or something Ð I don't know what happened. Now we're a mile back and we missed a field goal. I guess that was the last threat we made. Now if we could have gotten seven there we would have been ahead of them 7-3. But we didn't get it.

    Usually, when we had Jimmy (Jordan) and Wally (Woodham) ... When we had Jimmy and Wally, when one of them was cold, the other usually would be hot. Yesterday neither one of (the quarterbacks) were on.

    Did you put Xavier Lee back in for the last two series just to see if he could do something that you could build on for this coming week?

    Bowden: You're just hoping, just hoping he could make something happen. It was futility.

    How will you decide who starts at quarterback next week?

    Bowden: I don't know, but we'll sit and talk. We'll sit and talk and decide which one ought to start and (the) other back up.

    You've said in the past that having two quarterbacks was a good problem. Do you still feel that way?

    Bowden: When they are playing good it is.

    How much of the problems last night were of your own doing, a lack of protection, and how much of it was just Wake Forest?

    Bowden: I think they covered pretty good, but we had some passes called last night that were supposed to go over there (points left) and for some reason the quarterback threw right down the gut, which he wasn't supposed to have done, and it got intercepted. We lost a little of our poise.

    When you sit back and think about Chris Rix's four years, and now Drew's and how Xavier has been up and down a little bit, it's hard to gauge improvement in your quarterbacks. Rix was almost better his first year than his last. Drew seems like he has leveled out. Is that a natural thing as they develop?

    Bowden: I think it is. When someone starts out (high), and it levels off, then they go back up as high as they can.

    Does it concern you that maybe these guys are where they are going to be, or are you confident they are going to get substantially better?

    Bowden: You have to remember that Casey Weldon and those guys never started until they were red-shirt juniors. Neither one of these guys is a red-shirt junior. They should really know what they are doing next year ... But they should know it now.

    But has Drew taken a step back from where you thought he would be this season?

    Bowden: I think he will continue to improve ... As you get older and older, you get better. Quarterback is the same way Ð take a step back, level off, then take a step up. It's not like they are seniors.

    But that wasn't necessarily the case with Rix?

    Bowden: Chris? Chris' big problem was he made mistakes. You know, he'd make a great play, then fumble.

    But he was still making some of the same mistakes repeatedly as a senior, so he didn't improve. Everyone knows he was a great talent but that talent never reached its potential. Does that concern you that the pattern was there for him and it could be an issue now?

    Bowden: He was a linebacker playing quarterback.

    Can you pinpoint anything on offense that you can get fixed in the next week?

    Bowden: Well, we can shore up our pass-pro and then be sure our quarterback is reading, taking his progressions. Don't determine when you come out of the huddle who you are going to throw it to. Read your progressions.

    They weren't doing that last night?

    Bowden: ... I couldn't believe some of the things they did. A lot of its frustration. But if you had watched the Auburn game, you'd say the same thing. We tend to think it is only us. Well, it is us. But it happens here and happens here and happens here as far as football.

    You went a long time where it didn't happen to you?

    Bowden: I'd rather have it that way, though, than for it to never have happened.

    Because you did have that long run at the top, how frustrating is this for you?

    Bowden: It's frustrating. It's frustrating. But not any more than it was years ago when I went through the same thing.

    How much of a lack of a running game have an impact, especially in that kind of weather, trying to throw in a heavy rain?

    Bowden: It would have been better if we could have run more successfully. I don't know how many times we ran.

    Twenty-three times for 26 yards.

    Bowden: Twenty-three times for 26 yards. No, that's not too good.

    What did you say to Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe after the game?

    Bowden: I told him he had a good team. Wished him luck. That's about all you can tell them.

    After the game Drew Weatherford and Tony Carter said essentially the same thing Ð that there needs to be some soul-searching by the players. You've said after losses that they continue to fight to get back into games. Are you concerned that they will be able to bounce back from this loss?

    Bowden: I'd be concerned if they didn't. So far they have. They've come back and practiced hard (after a loss). Do I think they will practice hard? Yeah.

    You mentioned after the game that you would focus on the positives with the players and not dwell on the negatives. What positives can you take out of a loss like that?

    Bowden: There's not much positive with what has happened. The positive lies ahead. Get the next ballgame. Get bowl eligible. It's not like you are fixing to win a national championship, but there is a good side, too.

    How much does it help to have the Florida game at the end of the schedule to help keep the players motivated in a season like this?

    Bowden: It's good. It's good.

    There have been schools that have turned down bowl invitations when they won only six games. Can you talk about the advantages of going to a bowl, no matter where it is, because of the extra practices? How important is it?

    Bowden: The advantage is you want to go to a bowl every year. It's one of your goals at the first of the year, to go to a bowl. You hate to go to a bunch of them, then stop. But that could happen.

    Are there any similarities, looking back at Maryland and Wake Forest? It seems like some of these teams, what you would call underdog teams, have really handled the new clock rules, how to work the game, manage the game better. It seems like that has been kind of a common thread by some of the teams that have risen above what maybe expectations were.

    Bowden: If it's a close ballgame, it's important. But if it isn't a close game, it isn't that important. They are playing close games, I guess. Miami (lost) 14-13, so clock management means a lot.

    Four of Wake Forest's wins are by a total of 12 points, too.

    Bowden: Wake is real fine, well-coached football team. They are like playing a wishbone team. If you've got four days to get ready for a wishbone team, you don't want to play that wishbone team. Their offense is like that. They use that to their advantage every week.

    They got to the corner on you repeatedly. Are they much better speed-wise than perhaps you give them credit for, or anyone else gives them credit for?

    Bowden: They do have speed. They have speed at the skill positions. We've got speed too. Let's say we've got 12 guys that can fly and they've got four. We'll it just happens you can't get but four of them in the game at one time. So we've got six or eight on the sidelines ain't playing. The guys they've got in there can fly. You could tell it on their reverses. You could tell it just the way they do attack you at those positions.

    You said preparing for Wake is like preparing for a wishbone team. In that sense, is giving up the 30 points by the defense, which had been playing surprisingly well, a concern?

    Bowden: To give up that many points. I could ... You could nearly figure 20 because that's what they have been doing all year, you know.

    They also got 17, basically, from your offense?

    Bowden: Yeah, we threw too many interceptions. We threw four interceptions, didn't we?

    You were coming off perhaps your best overall performance of the season and you were getting players back from injuries. You had to feel good about the Virginia game. Did you see this coming?

    Bowden: Yeah, we played good against Virginia and just the opposite this week. It's amazing. We shut Virginia out and then get shutout. It ain't like we get shutout every week. First time since '88, I believe. (Actually, 1973).

    What did you tell the kids last night after the game?

    Bowden: I told them we played a poor game, a game where everybody broke down. Not just here. Not just there. I asked them, 'Did any of y'all play a good game? Then ... There's not much more I could say.

    Will you do anything different in practice this week to get their attention?

    Bowden: We're getting down towards the end of the year. If everybody was beat up and tired, you could push them and hurt them. We'll have to see what kind of shape we are in Monday when we get the physical report. I would be surprised if we don't work a little harder.

    What is the biggest question mark you have about this team after 10 games?

    Bowden: The biggest thing I see is unsteadiness in our quarterbacks now. Our quarterbacks have played pretty good through the years. But throwing it last night ... They were throwing it right into the defender's chest. We don't do that too often.

    Are either one of the freshmen quarterbacks be far enough along where they can get in the mix in the spring?

    Bowden: I would hope they could, but they might still be a year away. They're not bad ... . We red-shirted both of them this year, so we'll try to get them a little playing time next year.

    Is Drew holding on to the ball too long?

    Bowden: Well, you say, 'Are they holding on to the ball too long?' That's something hard to get a quarterback to do. Most of them like to take off instead of wait until a play develops. Now is he waiting too long? I'd say if he is, our protection is breaking down too soon.

    Joe Paterno went through these kind of seasons a few years back. You used to say during the great years that you don't know if you could handle the losing, but now that you've had a couple of tough years, are your thoughts the opposite. That you're not quitting until you get the program back to where it needs to be.

    Bowden: That's what you'd like to be ... You keep wanting one more championship, one more championship. Then I'm sure if you got it, you'd say, 'One more championship. Once more championship.' It never stops. As long as I'm healthy and I've got good players, it makes you want to stay with it. But I can't coach forever. I've just got to watch it.

    If you won another national championship, would you say that's enough?

    Bowden: That could happen. I'll take my chances if you let me win one. You let me win one and I'll worry about that decision.

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