Healthy Ellington can fuel offense even more

by - Senior Writer -
This season Ellington has 139 rushes for 740 yards (5.3 yds per carry, 105 yds per game) and 7 touchdowns

CLEMSON - The Clemson offense has set multiple records through the season’s first seven weeks and the scary part of it, at least for opponents, is that it could get better because of a healthy Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Jr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 190
Moncks Corner, SC

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and an improved running game.

Offensive coordinator Chad Morris made it clear from the first day he was hired that while he ran a spread offense, his first desire was to run the ball, and run it with a physical nature.

That desire was slowed early in the season as Ellington shook off the rust of last season’s foot injury and off-season surgery. Then, in game three against Auburn, Ellington suffered a hamstring injury that slowed him down even more. In game five at Virginia Tech, he collided with quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS So. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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’s helmet while trying to make a tackle following a Boyd interception, and suffered a deep thigh bruise.

As a result, Ellington would sit out Monday and Tuesday practices and then try to struggle through Wednesday and Thursday practices so he could play on Saturday. Last week, for the first time since the week before the Auburn game, Ellington felt healthy enough to practice the entire week and the results showed on Saturday as he carried 24 times for a career-high 212 yards and two touchdowns in Clemson’s 56-45 comeback win over Maryland.

He now ranks fourth in the ACC, averaging 105.7 rushing yards per game, and Saturday was the first time this season the Tigers rushed for more yards than it passed for in a game – 306 to 270. Ellington said he hopes to see more of the same now that he is healthy.

“I started the game and I felt real good after having a hard week of practice,” he said. “It made it easier for me to go out in the game and perform. I was able to practice Monday thru Thursday instead of just coming out on Wednesday just to get some reps with the team. I was more ready than other weeks, and I was expecting things to happen. In the past, I just didn’t feel good going into the game.”

Ellington said practice makes perfect, and the missed practices also caused him to lose continuity with his offensive line.

“It [practice] gets you into a good rotation with the offensive line and getting good timing with the quarterback, and seeing the blocks before they happen,” he said. “It felt great going back to that hard work during the week. I wasn’t able to take part in those things before, but being able to work let me have a great game Saturday.”

Morris said on Monday that he saw more “fire” in Ellington before and during Saturday’s game, and hopes a healthy Ellington means an expanded playbook.

“I think, anytime you can run the football, it opens up your whole playbook, in that regard,” Morris said. “You're able to do some things. That excites me, to see that. That was one week. We're not going to get the national rushing title in one week. We've got to continue to maintain our focus and understand that, yes, we did some good things, but we've got to see the overall picture. We've got to get after it a little bit harder this week.”

Tight end Dwayne AllenDwayne Allen
RS Jr. Tight End
#83 6-3, 255
Fayetteville, NC

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said that being able to run the ball effectively opens up the offense for the other playmakers.

“That’s what it is, it’s balance,” Allen said this week. ”We’re able to run bootlegs and have people get open like Jaron BrownJaron Brown
RS Jr. Wide Receiver
#18 6-2, 200
Cheraw, SC

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for a touchdown. It just opens up our playbook so much more. When we’re able to get six yards on first down, that’s when Coach Morris is able to say, ‘What do I want to do?’ Not what is the defense doing, and then what do I want to do. It’s what do I want to do.”

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