on November 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Tigers’ running game shows its depth

In recent years, and especially this year, the name C.J. Spiller has become synonymous with Clemson football.

Yet, during Saturday’s 49-3 trouncing of Coastal Carolina, Spiller was given a break and had a chance to sit back, enjoy Halloween and watch his partners in the backfield show that the Tigers have more than one weapon when it comes to moving the ball on the ground.

Spiller’s playing time was limited to five carries for 27 yards in just over one quarter of play, and Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper stepped in without missing a beat. Ellington racked up 88 yards on only six carries and a touchdown, while Harper did some heavy lifting of his own with 76 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown plunge.

“I think we’ve all felt like those guys were talented,” Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier said. “They were highly recruited guys with a lot of ability and it’s good for them to have an opportunity to go out there and get some carries and play well. It speaks well for their confidence. I’m excited about the future with those guys.”

On Clemson’s first drive of the second half, Ellington stepped up to the plate in a big way. The redshirt freshman carried the ball three straight times, with the final carry turning into a 55-yard run for a touchdown that changed the score to 28-0 and put the game out of reach.

“I saw a lot of orange jerseys in front of me,” Ellington said. “My (offensive) line did a great job getting out there, covering up the guys so I could go and make a move off of it.”

And the emergence of the two backs was a welcome change for both of them, as Ellington had only 33 carries for 193 yards on the season with no touchdowns and Harper had only 45 carries for 139 yards plus a touchdown he gained against Wake Forest.

“Coming out there, even if C.J. didn’t take a break I always have my mind at when I get in there I have to make my opportunity the best,” Harper said. “Me and Andre Ellington were rotating in and out, just trying to make plays.”

Ellington’s season long carry was 12 yards last week against Miami, which he more than quadrupled with his touchdown run. Harper also had his longest run of the year season at Miami, but that 14-yard gain was blown away by his 34-yard third quarter run Saturday.

With that type of production, the Tigers now have three proven options in the backfield, giving them the opportunity going forward to create plenty of headaches for opposing defenses.

Bowers hurt. Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was hurt during a running play in the first quarter. Bowers, who was diagnosed with a strained PCL, was taken to the locker room and did not return.

Ford moves up. Jacoby Ford’s 36-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was his fourteenth career touchdown catch. That moved him to seventh on Clemson’s all-time list for receiving touchdowns.

Ford later threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Dye in the second quarter, which lumped Ford with C.J. Spiller as the only two players in Clemson history to score a touchdown in five different ways – on a pass, a run, a catch, a kick return, and a punt return.

That touchdown pass was also the first for a Clemson player since Chip Davis threw one against Florida State in 1988.

Butler nearing mark. Clemson cornerback Crezdon Butler’s second quarter interception of Coastal Carolina quarterback Jamie Childers gave him 11 for his career, and his two yard return moved him to second place on the all-time Clemson interception return yardage list, with 243. Former safety Michael Hamlin is the leader with 275 yards.

Noted. Seldom used linebacker Corico Hawkins finished the game with 8 tackles – five more than his season total of three – as well as two sacks …The Tigers scored 49 points despite quarterback Kyle Parker completing only 44 percent of his passes for 70 yards and two interceptions …The game was the first all-time between Clemson and Coastal Carolina.