Originally created 10/06/04

Clemson's losing streak doesn't worry Bowden



CLEMSON, S.C. - Clemson coach Tommy Bowden has been in worse situations.

So starting out 1-3 with a Thursday night game looming at undefeated No. 10 Virginia didn't cause him to panic at all during his team's off-week.

Instead, the Tigers worked on simple things - tackling better, dropping fewer passes and eliminating turnovers.

"It's not like we need to revamp the offense, revamp the defense," Bowden said Tuesday.

The coach didn't hit the panic button last year either as the season and perhaps his career at Clemson appeared to be spiraling out of control after a 45-17 loss to Wake Forest.

And the Tigers responded with four wins to end the season, including Clemson's first win against Florida State at Death Valley since the Seminoles joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"We didn't change last year, and we worked our way out of it," Bowden said.

That turnaround led to a contract extension that could explain some of Bowden's cool this year. He's set to coach through 2010, and if the school fires him in the next few years, they have to pay a hefty buyout provision.

The single biggest problem for Clemson this season has been turnovers. The Tigers rank last in Division I in turnover margin at minus-3 a game.

Bowden's advice to his team is simple. Just don't think too much about it.

"We talk about it. We know it needs to be addressed," Bowden said. "But we know it will turn eventually."

While the offense has concentrated on maintaining possession, the defense is working on taking the ball away. The defense has forced only one fumble and one interception in four games.

The message for junior quarterback Charlie Whitehurst is simple. "Just relax and play," Bowden says.

Whitehurst has thrown 10 interceptions in the first four games this year after throwing only 13 picks all of last season.

Thursday night's game might come down to Virginia's running attack. The Cavaliers lead the ACC with 284 yards rushing a game. Clemson's defense ranks 10th in the league against the run, allowing 219 yards on the ground.