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November 2, 2008

Sunday Conversation: Bobby Bowden

On Sunday, head coach Bobby Bowden took some time to meet with the media to discuss multiple issues surrounding the Florida State football team. Some of those topics included the heartbreaking loss to Georgia Tech, what it is going to be like playing against Clemson and Tommy being absent, the emergence of Jermaine Thomas, Preston Parker's good game, and much more. Here is a complete transcript of what coach Bowden had to say.

Q: Are you concerned what kind of impact a close loss like yesterday could have on a young team like that?

Bowden: We will attack it positively. It was just like the other games where we were fixing to win it like we did in the other games, but we turned the ball over and had we not, we probably would have won it. We don't want them to feel like they are a bunch of losers.

Q: Is it possible that you did not think about protecting the ball before the play?

Bowden: I had the night before in our staff meeting where I go over all our plans, and things to look out for, and stuff like that. I had mentioned I think the last thing I had mentioned is that when you are on that goal line, be sure to wrap that ball up. I usually say that every Friday night.

Q: Have you ever lost a game in that way?

Bowden: No, sure haven't. First time. I guess if you live long enough, everything will happen. No, that's the first time we've lost one like that. I was thinking about the decision whether we were going to go for the touchdown and win the game, or go for three and tie it up. Naturally with another down, or two more downs to decide if we were going to go for the win. We were going to go for the win.

Q: Are you still confident in the defense?

Bowden: Well, I just don't know what to expect. I think we will do better against a team that doesn't run the triple option, that's an entirely different world. I thought for sure that we would do better against it than what we did than we have in the past. We just have to pass that off as not a good game.

Q: Did you talk to Mickey Andrews after the game?

Bowden: No.

Q: Do you have a sense of how this team is maturing because of how they have reacted over the wins over the pass four games?

Bowden: I think they have got it. I think they have got the resolve, and the will, and the desire, and fight because they never gave up the other night. They never gave up. It was tough hanging on. All we had to do was to get in that end zone and the game was ours. They didn't have time to come back and win it. But dadgummit, it was just one of those things. Then when that ball came out in the end zone, two of our guys were close enough to get it, but they got it instead of us. The kids showed no sign of giving up or laying down or anything like that. When it seemed like we would get back in the game, they had us by 14, we closed it to four, then all of the sudden they break that long run again and get ahead of us again. We just kept coming back and the end we had them struggling.

Q: Do you remember a team you have coached that responded well to a heartbreaking loss?

Bowden: I don't think I've had one that had that kind of loss. Seems like all of those that I have been in seems like missed field goals would be very much like it. We've had enough field goals where if we kicked the field goal we would win the game and we would miss it and they win it. This is kind of like it, but not quite like this one. When you are down 14 points and you come back, and here you nearly come back and win it. I haven't been through that too much other than the missed field goals.

Q: What was the mood on the plane on the trip home?

Bowden: I think they will always be somber. I think somber is a way you could describe it. Nobody is crying, nobody is laughing, just somber.

Q: In the last couple of games we have seen a re-emergence of Greg Carr, how much has his game changed over the last couple of years?

Bowden: He is so much more dependable now. He is so much more consistent. He was always kind of dependable, but now he is more consistent. I think he catches more, you know. I hope we will continue to go to him because he is so dadgum dependable.

Q: Was it a tough adjustment for him to go from a fade pass receiver to one who goes over the middle and those kind of things?

Bowden: It was a tough adjustment, but it was an adjustment he was challenged with when (Lawrence) Dawsey and Jimbo (Fisher) and them came in. He was challenged with that, to become the complete receiver. You have got to go inside, you have got to go down the line, or you have to come straight across the middle. We worked on it and he has done a real good job. I think he's very comfortable.

Q: When there has been one of those missed field goal games, what did you come back with and tell your team?

Bowden: Well, we usually came back and won. We really shouldn't have been there in the first place. If we would have stopped them like we should have, we wouldn't have been there in the first place. But the thing is, you can show them how when you are nearly down and out, you still almost won the game. We will never know how close that came to being a masterpiece. I mean that game could have been a masterpiece. If we would have scored, that would have gone down as I'll bet you, one of the top four comebacks in Florida State history. Maybe top three. The choke at Doak, the one at Georgia Tech in 1992, and then another one somewhere that doesn't come to mind. This would have been classic.

Q: On defense, did you have to be more perfect when facing an offense like that?

Bowden: Yeah, you know, it's kind of like this. I remember talking to them last week, I said that we have to play a disciplined defense. Somebody had to take the dive, somebody had to take the quarterback, somebody had to take the pitch. And then on another down, somebody tackle the dive, somebody tackle the quarterback, somebody tackle the back. That's step one, and step two, that's step three. They killed us on step one and step three. I mean the fullback up the middle, take that away and we win the game. Then the halfback outside wide, we really stopped them after they lost their quarterback. He was the guy that made it go. That fullback up the middle, that should never happen. It's the first thing you should do is stop that one. They just out blocked us. They just out blocked us. Then the defensive ends are chasing other people. Somebody needs to chase that quarterback, and somebody needs to chase that pitch. As soon as that fullback breaks the line of scrimmage I don't know if you remember when we talked last Sunday, I said if we don't take care of the fullback he will be gone, and that happened twice.

Q: Are you confident that the coaches and players will get this headed back in the right direction?

Bowden: I'm confident in the attitude, I'm not worried about the attitude. The attitude was excellent last night. We fought 60 minutes. The thing about that is, we haven't had a let up. Every game we have played has been 60 minutes. Every game we have played, the last play of the game you better not make a mistake. The attitude of the kids has been good. I'm not worried about that. I've got to be sure that we coaches do a sound coaching job so that we can get these kids opportunities to win. That is offensively and defensively. I haven't seen any indications of let up out of them.

Q: It seems like every week you have been in some close games.

Bowden: Yeah you are right. We haven't had a game where we could take the first team out and play the second team a quarter or a half like the first two games of the year. Everything has been close, close, close. We have to play 60 minutes of football. We are getting some great experience now, but just don't get hurt. If you are going to have injuries you have to survive that. I think we have been fortunate in that regard.

Q: How much better has Michael Ray Garvin been as a kick returner and what is his status?

Bowden: He has played a lot better. He has had his best year returning kicks. I feel real good with him back there. I like him because he is a north-south runner, and he's got world class speed. If he finds a crease he has got a chance to go all the way. I have been very pleased with him. I haven't talked to the doctors today, I don't know if you all have or not, but I hope he is ok.

Q: How do you think Marcus Sims will respond?

Bowden: He will respond positively. The week before, Virginia Tech, he made the big touchdown down there. He is really one of the best goal line runners we've got especially going north and south. Against Virginia Tech, he knocked it in from the one yard line, went over the top, and if you remember when he hit the ground, the ball came out and they had to review that one so that it didn't count as a fumble. That is one reason that I reminded him of that Friday night. He just has to put those things out of his mind. You all watch pro football a lot and there are these great players and they have to keep playing, they have to keep going on.

Q: What are your feelings about not having Tommy on the sideline against Clemson?

Bowden: We will like that. It was getting where Ann, especially my wife, she just got so tired of she can't win because she takes a lot of pride. She wants me to win, she wants Tommy to win, she wants Terry, and all of them to win. So when Tommy and I play, she can't win. And of course I didn't like it either, because I didn't like it when he beats me. And when I beat him, I feel for him. I am so happy, this is the first time in ten years I don't have to worry about Tommy being on the other side looking at me, or me looking at him.

Q: Is there any additional motivation to beating Clemson because of the way things happened there?

Bowden: No. I just want to go out and win the game. People will think that, oh well you're going to try to beat them bad because they fired your son. No I'm not. No I'm not. He had ten wonderful years at Clemson. He will tell anyone that. I really have no animosity toward them. Then of course Dabo Swinney, Tommy coached him at Alabama so he kind of raised him really. I like him, but I'm still going to try to beat him.

Q: D'Vontrey Richardson and Jermaine Thomas were instrumental in getting back in the game. Do you feel like they need to be in the game more?

Bowden: Yeah. When a game like that comes a long, there are some things in there that make you happy, that encourage you. I think Jimbo does a great job of splicing these things in and things like that. I can see that we need to get Jermaine, I mean he nearly won the dadgum ball game by himself.

Q: Every time Jermaine has been on the field, it seems like he has been extremely productive.

Bowden: Well he really has. In that Virginia Tech game he wasn't I don't think. But in that Miami game he averaged 25 yards a carry which you reminded me of on Sunday morning. Of course, he had that great game yesterday. It's very encouraging. Deuce is beginning to do that. He didn't practice Monday or Tuesday, but ran Wednesday and Thursday. He needs some rest, so I feel much better about that right now.

Q: What was your assessment of Christian Ponder's game yesterday?

Bowden: I thought it was pretty good. When he came out behind from his goal line and got a first down, then took them for another first down. Remember that fourth and five that he had when we almost decided to punt, he got that first down. I thought he did an excellent job overall.

Q: Since Miami, your kickoff coverage has not been very good.

Bowden: You are exactly right. The other one just doesn't kick it far enough to we don't cover it like we should. When Gano kicked, he kicked it so far that we had a better chance of getting down there. He kicked one and they couldn't return it. The other kid just can't kick it far enough, but you have to give him credit because he is doing the best he can do. Our kickoff returns against us have done a better job against us than they have in the past.

Q: How nice was it to see Preston Parker get going and have a break out game?

Bowden: That was good. He deserves it. He was kind of hurt last week, he tried to practice Thursday and he couldn't practice, but he gutted it out and played good. It's just hard to get all of them a break out game, there are too many of them. People say why can't 82 have a break out game? Why can't 18 have a break out game? How come number six can't? You haven't got but one ball. There still is one ball. You can't give it to all of them. I was glad to see it was good to see Preston have a good game.

Q: How do you anticipate Corey Surrency coming back and responding?

Bowden: I would expect like Bert Reed. He has been working with the scout squad, has stayed in good shape, and he has paid his price. He has sat out his one ball game, it's time to get back to work, so come on back.

Q: Was there something in Georgia Tech's defense that made it conducive to playing Richardson?

Bowden: I think the big thing was that D'Vontrey began to practice better and was his normal self again that enabled him to work it in more. If D'Vontrey hadn't had that two weeks of missing some practice, not the whole week, he probably would have been in earlier. But now he has good control of himself and practiced hard, and has had a good attitude. I'm sure Jimbo will work him in a little more.

Q: Do you remember any former players that had issues with fumbling but later on became dependable guys?

Bowden: Most of them. Most of the backs we have had here fumbled early. It's kind of a natural they get hit harder. They get hit harder in college than they do in high school. Some of them learn how to protect the ball. I haven't seen nearly as many freshmen fumble the ball. He will have to learn how to protect it. You never know, it might be his last fumble.

Q: Will it be a different dynamic talking to Tommy this week?

Bowden: I'm sure I won't talk to him much. Tommy wouldn't dare spill the beans on them to me. Most of those kids, he coached those kids, and he will pull for those kids. Will he pull for them against me? Probably. Not necessarily against me, but just to show he is a good recruiter. He wouldn't dare come by here, and I wouldn't ask him to. He wouldn't say well this guy has this weakness, and that guy has that weakness, he wouldn't do that.

Q: With Michigan losing, you guys take over the consecutive bowl streak. Are you kind of surprised where they are?

Bowden: Well it is an amazing thing. We were having such great success, and all of the sudden we didn't have it anymore and I can't understand it. You can't do it forever. It won't go on forever. I think Michigan might have had 35 or 36 bowls in a row. Now all of the sudden they are not bowl eligible, but who would have suspected that? I wouldn't have thought that. They will be back. We have to fight hard so we can maintain the streak for ourselves.

Q: Have you talked to Tommy recently?

Bowden: Yeah I have talked to him several times since he left. And that Thursday about a week ago he stayed with us on his way from Panama City, Florida back up to Clemson. Now he is back down in Panama City. I'll be honest with you, Tommy and I have probably talked three or four times since he left Clemson. We have not mentioned one Clemson player.

Q: Is he doing ok?

Bowden: Oh yeah he is doing ok. Even when Tommy was at Clemson we probably talked at least once a week.

Q: You have a birthday coming up next week, how tough are these close games on you?

Bowden: When you win them, they are just great, fantastic. When you lose them here is a game that looks like we are fixing to win it. When the game is going you think well were fixing to pull another one out. Then it happened and it's bad. It hurts.

Q: Despite the loss, a lot of your goals are still in play, does that make it easier?

Bowden: That's right. We just got to try and play, we have got to improve on 7-6. Right now we got six. We still have a chance to have a very good year, but we have got to win the next game.

Transcribed by Corey Dowlar


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