Injury Could Force Tigers to Plan B on Stopping TCU's Hughes

by - Correspondent -
Starting right tackle Chris Hairston makes a block against BC to open a hole for C.J. Spiller.

CLEMSON -- Starting right tackle Chris Hairston’s availability for Saturday’s game against TCU is still uncertain, but Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said his star offensive lineman will be on the field if he is “capable of playing.”

“You’re always concerned if you’re not going to have one of your best players available to you,”
Swinney said Sunday during a teleconference. “We’ll certainly have to have a plan if he’s not able to play.”

Hairston sprained the MCL in his left knee during the third quarter of Saturday’s 25-7 victory over the Boston College Eagles. His availability for Saturday’s game against No. 15 TCU is a “wait-and-see,” situation Swinney said.

“He (Hairston) looked fairly good this morning (Sunday),” he said. “He didn’t have crutches, didn’t have a knee brace on, walked in carrying his own weight and didn’t have a lot of swelling. That’s pretty good when you have an MCL sprain.”

The junior lineman’s health is critical for the Tigers’ offensive success against the Horn Frogs, who have All-American candidate Jerry Hughes at defensive end.

If Hairston is not able to go against TCU, Swinney said the Tigers will have to find another way to contend with Hughes. Hairston backup is senior Corey Lambert.

Last season, Hughes led the nation with 15 sacks and six forced fumbles. He had three sacks Saturday against Texas State and posted 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks at Virginia in week one.

“(Hughes is) going to make some plays, but we have to work hard to minimize them,” Swinney said. “He can run full speed under a table. We’ll have to have two or three plans – plans A, B or C – for him.”

As for holding Hairston out of the game Saturday to make sure he is available for the remainder of the ACC schedule, Swinney said that is not likely to happen.

“We try to win every game,” he said. “I don’t think our fans think that way and we certainly don’t think that way. Every game is important. Obviously, you want to win your conference so you’ll have an opportunity for the BCS. When we play in Death Valley we’re going to do everything we can to win.”

C.J. Spiller’s health?

Senior running back C.J. Spiller was held out of the last half of the Boston College game after aggravating a toe he injured against Middle Tennessee in week one.

Swinney said he expects Spiller to play against TCU.

“He was good this morning (Sunday),” Swinney said. “He felt better this morning. I think he’ll be ready to go. The guy is unbelievable. Only played 11 snaps against Middle, had a full game against Georgia Tech and played 2 ½ quarters or so against this B.C. team. It’s amazing what he’s doing. He continues to put up big numbers. I think he needs two return yards and 12 receiving yards to be the first ACC player ever to have 2,500 yards rushing, 1,500 yards return and 1,000 yards receiving. He’s a special guy who impacts the game. He certainly left his presence on the field yesterday (Saturday).”

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