Can Clemson's run game be fixed?


by - Senior Writer -
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D.J. Howard carries against North Carolina last week

CLEMSON – The questions concerning Clemson’s rushing attack are plentiful, and the answers are few.

Both head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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and offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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spent fall camp touting the abilities of the running backs on the roster, calling it the deepest group the Tigers have had in years. That depth was hurt when junior Zac BrooksZac Brooks
Jr. Running Back
#24 6-1, 199
Jonesboro, AR

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was injured late in camp, but Swinney and Morris still liked their options with veterans D.J. HowardD.J. Howard
RS Sr. Running Back
#22 6-0, 205
Lincoln, AL

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and C.J. DavidsonC.J. Davidson
RS Jr. Running Back
#32 5-10, 203
Clemson, SC

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and newcomers Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
RS Fr. Running Back
#9 6-1, 209
Loganville, GA

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and Adam ChoiceAdam Choice
Fr. Running Back
#26 5-10, 211
Thomasville, GA

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.

The numbers don’t bear out their optimism, and whether it’s the offensive line or the abilities of the backs one thing is for certain: it has to get better.

How bad has it been? Clemson’s leading rusher is C.J. Davidson, who has 133 yards in four games. By comparison, Roderick McDowellRoderick McDowell
Running Back (2009 - 2013)
#25 5-9, 195
Sumter, SC

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had 132 yards against Georgia in Clemson’s opener last season. Davidson also leads the team with 36 carries, but is averaging 3.7 yards per attempt. Howard is second on the team with 30 attempts, but is averaging just 3.4 yards per attempt.

Freshmen Wayne Gallman and Adam Choice are faring a little better – Gallman is averaging 5.8 yards per carry in 16 attempts, while Choice is averaging 4.2 yards per carry in 21 attempts.

Against North Carolina, the Tigers averaged a miniscule 2.8 yards per carry but right tackle Kalon DavisKalon Davis
RS Sr. Offensive Guard
#67 6-5, 340
Chester, SC

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said the Heels were selling out to stop the run.

“I think you would have to go back and watch the film,” Davis said Monday. ‘”You’re watching us run the football against a bear front with five d-linemen and they’re rolling down a safety and have a linebacker in the box. With five d-linemen, safety and a linebacker – it’s not exactly going to be a pretty run.”

Morris said the run game hasn’t been what he had hoped.

“Obviously going into this year that was a huge emphasis for us,” Morris said. “Obviously we didn’t run the ball as effective (as we wanted to). Some of our speed motion and game we flip it and it goes in the passing category in yards. That’s a little bit skewed, but we didn’t get that many yards out of it. I think the way they (UNC) were playing us they definitely lined up to stop the run and try to put pressure on Deshaun. They did a few things to offset it and make things a little bit cloudier than they were. Still we have to be more effective in the run game.”

Morris said that the Tigers have missed the physical presence of tight end Sam CooperSam Cooper
RS Sr. Tight End
#86 6-6, 250
Brentwood, TN

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, who has been out since warm-ups of the opener against Georgia. He also said that hasn’t been the only problem.

“Getting more physical play out of our tight ends – we’re not getting nearly as physical as we need to play,” Morris said. “Jay Jay McCulloughJay Jay McCullough
RS So. Tight End
#89 6-3, 248
Fort Mill, SC

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has been the most physical of all the tight ends and he didn’t have his best game (against UNC). He didn’t play on par to where he was the first three weeks. Our offensive line has to be able to knock guys off the ball. Creating some movement. Our backs have to find some holes. There was a little bit more there that we didn’t find at times.”

One potential fix could be using quarterback Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
Fr. Quarterback
#4 6-3, 204
Gainesville, GA

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and the zone-read a little more.

“I feel very comfortable running the zone read with him,” Morris said. “I think he’s very comfortable with it. We just have to be smart with it and understand the backs have to get involved with it. We have to be able to create some movement upfront. It’s all about space. You talk about zone read and it’s spreading people out and trying to eliminate as many guys in the box as you possibly can. Let your quarterback account for the extra defender.”

However, Morris said he understands that Watson can’t carry the ball every play, and said he will use Watson differently than he used Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
Quarterback (2009 - 2013)
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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.

"I don’t want to run him every play. That was by design, but we did run a lot of zone read,” Morris said. “The week before at Florida State he was pre-determining most of his reads and pulling every one of them. Some of those he made some bad reads and pulled. We really worked on it and reading it. He had a few gives and didn’t rollout in getting out of the box with it with the running back.

"What didn’t work in Tajh’s favor was to get him in space. What works in Deshaun’s favor is to get him in space. By doing that, you try to create space as much as you can. By formations, alignments, I think the more we go into this thing – without a doubt his comfort level running the zone read and create space for him is what you try to do."

Swinney said Tuesday that another option would be getting Gallman more involved in the offense – once he learns to slow down.

“We have to get No. 9 involved,” he said. “But we have to slow him down a little bit. If he beats the pulling guard on a play, then that doesn’t do us any good. We are trying to get him to slow down and be a little more patient. C.J. (Spiller) had that same problem when he first got here. He also had a mistake Saturday where he got us behind the chains a little bit.”

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Subject (Replies: 106) Author
New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
TigerNet News
I'm sure Sam Cooper would help but
Hi Cotton Tiger®
Re: I'm sure Sam Cooper would help but
slumdog
Re: I'm sure Sam Cooper would help but
CUAtTheFinishLine®
Re: I'm sure Sam Cooper would help but
slumdog
Why is our offensive line hardly ever able to "knock guys
surroundedtiger
How many offensive linemen are we missing due to injuries?
ClemsonTiger1988®
Re: Why is our offensive line hardly ever able to "knock guys
Hi Cotton Tiger®
That is pass blocking
tokillagamecock®
I don't get why UNC sold out on the run with Watson throwing
BentZero
What would you expect from a Vic Koening coached defense***
twtiger
you got that right... bad memories
El Tigre 1
When they studied the film on DW they determined that...
ClemsonTiger1988®
Not until we get a bigtime commit at that position…
El Tigre 1
Feaster is from Spartanburg High
bengaline
Feaster is from Spartanburg and plays for Spartanburg High
Anonymous08®
Re: Not until we get a bigtime commit at that position…
slumdog
Thats mostly a conditioning issue I would think
tokillagamecock®
How has aTm's OL been so good for the last few years?
gorillawalk
It's really simple. Texas produces about 370 div. I college
Chuckston T-Man
I didn't realize we were restricted to recruiting SC only.***
Razzmatazz
Yeah because it's sooo easy to go recruit guys from
TigersAndCubs
Re: Yeah because it's sooo easy to go recruit guys from
slumdog
Wow! Seems that every school in TX...
gorillawalk
Re: Wow! Seems that every school in TX...
slumdog
Re: Wow! Seems that every school in TX...
clembily
Seeing as how Watson is in the top 5 of QB stats
tokillagamecock®
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
Streaking Tiger
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
slumdog
Didn't he actually fumble on 2 straight carries but we
TigersAndCubs
Kurt Flemming
BONNEAU TIGER1
Re: Kurt Flemming
slumdog
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
allorangeallthetime52®
I agree with that. With Cole starting and then this past
Anonymous08®
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
slumdog
Pleeezzz don't hang Deshaun out lika a pinata...
Watcher®
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
mrtom
Not a New Story,,Same Ole Song
sspassport®
Quick summary
803Tiger72®
Re: Quick summary
rwwjr
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
leftneck
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
deroberts
Hard to blame TE's when 90% are between the guards
coachmac
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
slumdog
We did it through the air. Run-blocking & rushing weak.
Razzmatazz
Your stats from perviosu years have already been soundly
Shane_Morgan
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
tjaxx82
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
deroberts
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
babaganoush
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
sideliner
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
deroberts
Running scared already? Just think what the coots will see
Tiger5
Yes it can and here's how
dagummit
Kurt Fleming!
_Chase14
kurt fleming! i second that!!***
freakgeek
BS! UNC rarely loaded the box. OL too weak to open a sliver
Razzmatazz
Re: BS! UNC rarely loaded the box. OL too weak to open a sliver
slumdog
4th down and 1 issues for the cock.
Shane_Morgan
Re: 4th down and 1 issues for the cock.
slumdog
Why would you be worried about UNC?
Shane_Morgan
Not BS. UNC did focus almost completel on stopping the run.
Shane_Morgan
We're 91st in rushing, 113th in YPC! 2013: 56th & 73rd! Yay!
Razzmatazz
Re: We're 91st in rushing, 113th in YPC! 2013: 56th & 73rd! Yay!
slumdog
We're not talking about this year, hence the title says "can
Shane_Morgan
I mentioned this year and how we're obviously still
Shane_Morgan
Tajh wasn't that bad at scrambling from the pocket when
Tall_Tiger_Two
You apparently don't understand we're talking about rushing.
Razzmatazz
No, obviously you don't get it. No one is claiming we've
Shane_Morgan
You're cherry-picking. Explain our crappy YPC stats.
Razzmatazz
LOL!
Shane_Morgan
Read the article. Read my post. We're talking RUSHING.
Razzmatazz
Yeah, and like I pointed out...
Shane_Morgan
By the way gomer...
Shane_Morgan
And no other team in the country takes sacks?
Razzmatazz
Sure they do. But like has been pointed out to you ignorant
Shane_Morgan
Juvenile name-calling, lies, & now profanity? Classy. Bye.***
Razzmatazz
Ignorant ### = FACT.
Shane_Morgan
YPC stats.
Shane_Morgan
What % of run plays was UNC in bear or had 8 in the box?***
Razzmatazz
I will be sure to count that up for you gomer...
Shane_Morgan
I counted up the 1st half. UNC went bear front ONE time.
Razzmatazz
Please stop acting like you know anything about football.
Shane_Morgan
I'll take that to mean you have no supporting data.
Razzmatazz
What's "sad" is you can't see the forest through the trees.
Shane_Morgan
What's sad is that you just make up lies.
Razzmatazz
LOL. You're a funny little liar.
Shane_Morgan
So you couldn't find a post where I said that? Ha! Bye!***
Razzmatazz
2010?? Really?
Shane_Morgan
Re: Not BS. UNC did focus almost completel on stopping the run.
slumdog
The Oculus could fix the run game.***
Razzmatazz
How do you identify a Clemson lineman after the game?
RidgeTig®
Re: How do you identify a Clemson lineman after the game?
slumdog
A couple things stand out.
Prime T. Tiger
Used to use a short yardage fake dive with quick toss.
CUTIGR69®
Grew up in no hands OL days, but still seems we play high.
CUTIGR69®
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
than7262
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
Grumblintiger
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
slumdog
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
slumdog
Kurt Fleming
tigerman90
Re: Kurt Fleming
Dantzlerfan01
Re: Kurt Fleming
tigerman90
Re: Kurt Fleming
slumdog
Paul Macko***
Shane_Morgan
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
chriswalk27
Re: New Story: Can Clemson's run game be fixed?
slumdog
Really?
864Tiger828

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