Ellington: "I just want to make plays"


by - Senior Writer -
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After three games, Andre Ellington is averaging 7.4 yards per carry.

CLEMSON – Saturday night in Auburn, Clemson running back Andre Ellington had his biggest workload since he was a senior at Berkeley High School in Moncks Corner back in 2007.

He carried the football 22 times and caught four passes for a total of 26 touches, and as a result, he woke up Sunday morning feeling a little bit more sore than usual.

A quick trip to the hot tub in the training room had him feeling good as new, however, and he said that he will take that kind of soreness every week if it means he is on the field and contributing.

“After the game, I was pretty banged up,” Ellington said earlier this week. “But I could go out and play right now if I had to. It was nothing too major, just aching a little bit. It was a lot [of touches.] I was used to it in high school, where I had to carry it all the time. But Sunday I came in to get treatment, and the aches and pains went away. I am good right now.”

Ellington’s 22 carries were a career-high, as were his 140 yards. After three games, he is averaging 7.4 yards per carry, and his 7.2 yard per carry average through his first 17 games is better than the 6.5 yards per carry earned by his former teammate – C.J. Spiller.

In addition to the aches and pains he woke up with on Sunday, he also had a congratulatory text message from Spiller.

“C.J. sent me a text with some props,” Ellington said. “He said he was able to watch the first half, but wasn’t able to watch the second half because he had meetings. But I had no doubts I would be successful. I went in there wanting to have a good game. I’m just disappointed we didn’t win. One or two more blocks [in overtime] and we could have made a touchdown. But we didn’t get it done.”

Despite the hot start for Ellington, offensive coordinator Billy Napier said on Tuesday that Ellington will continue to split carries with junior Jamie Harper in an effort to reduce the wear and tear on the 5-9, 190-pounder.

"We're trying to play those guys an equal number of snaps because of the cumulative effect of the season, I think you've got to do that," Napier said. "We don't want to leave the park one day and one guy is more beat up than the other. You've got to have two. We'd like to have a third back so you wouldn't have to play those guys 40, 44 plays."

Napier followed that up by saying that Ellington’s performance was not a surprise.

"He can do that every week, no doubt," Napier said. "Andre is a great zone runner. He's got great acceleration, makes full-speed decisions. He’s a special talent."

Ellington said that despite the loss, he had fun playing.

“I had a lot of fun playing against a good team,” he said. “I enjoyed the opportunity to go out and show everybody what I have. I also saw a team just come together right before our eyes, and there wasn’t any quit in anybody. Nobody complained. When we got down [24-17] we just drew together more. So I just went out there and played with my teammates.”

No matter what you call the tandem of Ellington and Harper – New Storm or Double Trouble or whatever – there is no doubt that Clemson has a dangerous combo of talented backs, and Ellington said he doesn’t mind sharing the load with Harper.

“I don’t want to be stingy; when I have my opportunity I just want to make the best of it,” Ellington said. “We are both capable of making great catches or gaining a lot of yards on the field. Maybe the next game I will be making the catches and he will have an outstanding running game.”

Prior to this season, Harper was known as more of the power running back –and he has shown plenty of that so far in 2010 – while Ellington was known as more of the shifty, elusive runner.

Several plays on Saturday, however, showed that Ellington can be a physical runner as well. On the tying touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, Ellington lowered his shoulder on one play to run over one Auburn linebacker; on a screen pass from Parker near the goal line he had his helmet ripped off; and on the touchdown he simply got lower than the defense and followed fullback Chad Diehl into the end zone.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said that Ellington simply took the game over in the fourth quarter.

“A lot of the offensive linemen came over to me after Kyle got hurt, and they said we have to run the ball now to win the game,” Ellington said. “Jamie told me to just keep going. I feel like I have the ability to break tackles or go outside. I just go out there and play. I can catch the ball out of the backfield, or I can run in between the tackles. I don’t care – I just want to make plays.”

Ellington then said that he has moved on from the Auburn game and is ready for the Hurricanes.

“I have moved on and I am ready for Miami,” he said. “We have two weeks to prepare and that is an advantage for us. They are a fast team, and they really fly to the ball well. We are going to take this time and heal. I am sure the guys are hungry, though. They are ready to get back out there and win a game.”

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