CLEMSON — When Chansi Stuckey caught Will Proctor’s 22-yard pass setting Clemson up with a first-and-goal at the Boston College three in the first overtime last Saturday, everyone in the stadium knew what was coming next from the Tigers’ offense.
Clemson tailback James Davis, the ACC Rookie of The Year last season, already had 96 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He was averaging over four yards every time he carried the ball and the BC defense had shown very little residence in stopping Clemson’s top running back.
Considering the fact the Eagles had already had their first possession in overtime and kicked a 35-yard Ryan Ohliger field goal, it was obvious to the 45,000 or so fans that Clemson was going to run Davis right up the gut until the sophomore tailback found the end zone. But what the Clemson coaching staff proved in last Saturday’s 34-33 loss is the obvious isn’t always so obvious.
Instead of Davis, and a fullback in a traditional I-formation, pounding it straight ahead for the final three yards, the Tigers lined up in a T-formation set and freshman running back C.J. Spiller was in for Davis.
“I wanted to be in there, but the coaches didn’t call for me to be in there,” Davis said. “I’m going to support what the coaches tell me to do, so I had to watch like everyone else.”
And what everyone else saw was Spiller get slammed for a four-yard loss and Clemson eventually settling for a Jad Dean 30-yard field goal to force a second overtime. The Tigers (1-1) eventually lost the game when Dean’s point after attempt on Davis’ 1-yard score in the second overtime was blocked.
As for the play called near the goal line in the first overtime, Bowden defended the call and felt he had the best personnel in the game for that situation at that time.
“(Spiller) is the fastest guy we’ve got. That’s a speed play,” he said.
But that was the same play Clemson ran early in the fourth quarter, which put the Tigers up 24-17 at the time. The player who ran the ball into the end zone – Davis.
Hamlin out. For the second straight week Clemson suffered another big blow on defense. Safety Michael Hamlin, who started seven games last season, and had a 74-yard interception return the week before against Florida Atlantic broke his foot in the Boston College game and is expected to miss six to seven weeks and possibly the rest of the year.
Hamlin suffered the injury on the controversial fourth-quarter interception that was overturned by instant replay.
Bowden said free safety Chris Russell will more than likely move into Hamlin’s position, while Hamlin’s backup, Roy Walker, could also get the starting spot as well. Sadat Chambers and Chris Clemmons could also see sometime at the “cat” safety position.
Hamlin is the third defensive starter to be injured for a long length of time this season. Staring inside linebacker Anthony Waters was lost for the season with a torn ACL in the win over Florida Atlantic, while weakside linebacker Tremaine Billie broke his foot during the preseason.
In addition, bandit end Gaines Adams reportedly has a bruised shoulder. Bowden said he wasn’t sure about Adams’ status for the Florida State game. Adams did not practice on Monday.
“I thought he did a great job Saturday,” Bowden said Monday. “He went into the locker room and got treatment and came out and played in the second half. When they told me, they thought it was a separated shoulder. I didn’t know if he would play in the second half or this game.
“Right now he is questionable for Saturday. But he was hurt in the second quarter and he came back out and played.”
Cornerback C.J. Gaddis is listed as questionable for the FSU game as well and was in a protective foot cast Monday and did not practice. Gaddis injured his ankle in the second quarter of Saturday’s loss to BC.
Despite the injuries, Bowden is optimistic about his football team for the future with so many young players getting playing time.
With that said, Bowden does have concerns with leadership on defense and how his young players handle Florida State’s hostile environment.
“The offensive side of the ball I don’t worry as much because we have a senior offensive line, tight end, Will, Reggie (Merriweather) and Chansi. We can handle it a little bit better from a composure standpoint, but there is a bunch of guys searching for direction over there (on defense),” Bowden said. “You miss more than just pretty good players over there, you miss the leadership. We are really struggling.”
Players of the game. Bowden announced that Antonio Clay was the Defensive Player of the Game from Boston College, while quarterback Will Proctor was the offensive player. The special teams player was Cole Chason.
Captains for FSU game. Bowden said defensive back Duane Coleman, Proctor and Chason will be the captains for Saturday’s game at Florida State.
UNC game to be televised. The Clemson vs. North Carolina football game on Sept. 23 will be televised by the Lincoln Financial Network (formerly Jefferson Pilot) and will kickoff at noon.
Courtesy of Journal / Messenger