Relentless


by - Senior Writer -
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ATLANTA, GA. – Relentless.

Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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invited a motivational speaker to talk with his team early in fall camp, and the speaker challenged each player to find a single word that would define their vision for the 2012 season.

Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Sr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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’s word was “relentless.” Fitting, considering that he ran for a career-high 231 yards against Auburn Saturday, running around, over and through Auburn’s defense to the tune of nine yards per carry.

However, that word could describe Clemson’s offense Saturday night, a night in which the offense struggled to put up points but not yards, dealt with dropped passes and costly penalties, but still found the will to win.

Along the way, a young and inexperienced offensive line found a way to help the skill players convert in short-yardage situations, dug deep down for the will to be more physical than Auburn’s defense, and wound up coming up big in the decisive fourth quarter.

Offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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even said that the line came up to him in the second half and begged for Morris to run the offense at an even faster pace, telling Morris that the Auburn defense was getting tired and weren’t even in their stances when the ball was snapped.

But it was Ellington that led the way, and Morris said you can tell that the Moncks Corner native is finally healthy.

"This is the first time you've seen Andre healthy. Andre is healthy now for the first time in two years,” Morris said. “I think you see that. There is no doubt in my mind who the best player under this roof was. Without a doubt, he was on a mission. He was relentless. We talked about that, being relentless in everything he did. Andre was talking to me on the sidelines saying, 'Coach, keep giving it to me, keep giving it to me.' There was no doubt in my mind that on the last two drives who we wanted touching the ball and that was #10 [Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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], #23 [Ellington] and #6 [Nuk Hopkins]. What a great way to start. But that's all this is, just a start. It's a great start, though. There are a lot of big football games ahead. We've got to get better. There are a lot of things we can get better at."


Ellington credited his offensive line with his performance.

“I certainly didn’t get it all on my own,” Ellington said. “I’m just thankful to have a great line in front of me. Without them, I’d have zero yards. I’ve known all off-season that we have a great offensive line. We’ve worked our butts off this off-season to get ready for this game. We put a lot of work in, and sometimes it doesn’t show when you don’t win on the big stage. Tonight was our opportunity to do that, and we went out and won.”

Morris said he was pleased with the way Clemson was able to run the football.

"It was time for our guys to step up and get some respect,” Morris said. ”It was their turn to step up and get an identity. If we're going to win and at the level we expect to win at, we're going to have to run the football. I'm extremely proud of our offensive line right now."
Clemson scored 10 points on its last two drives – physical drives that essentially won the game – and Morris said his group “felt it.”

"The last two drives, to be exact, we just felt it. Give them credit,” he said. “They catch a tip ball interception. It should have been caught. We were stopping ourselves. We were doing that all game long. The only person that was stopping us was us. Dropped balls. Jumping off sides. Having a big play down the sidelines and didn't have a receiver lined up. We're at such a faster pace now. We snapped the ball 91 times tonight. It comes with experience, too. When you have a veteran quarterback and a veteran tailback and an offensive line that's growing up, that is when you put the ball in their hands.”

Morris said he thinks Clemson’s line grew up in the game.

“I think so, without a doubt,” he said. “They take a lot of pride with what they do. We've challenged them a lot, too. That's being who they are, too. To be able to have the success we had in short yardage, I'm extremely proud of our guys."

The line was feeling confident enough to try and help Morris with the play-calling.

“We snapped it 91 times. We felt like we had them in the first quarter,” Morris said. “We felt they were gassed. Our guys were coming back to the sidelines telling us, 'Coach, we've got to keep pressing them.'"

One issue Clemson will have to address is the number of dropped passes, specifically by the tight ends. Morris said, however, that he won’t stop throwing to them.

"Keep throwing to them. The success of this team will have a lot to do with them,” he said. “We have to have those guys step up and make plays for us. I know they're down on themselves, but they'll make some plays. They made some big blocks. It's just a feel. Settle down and get those first-game jitters out. We ain't giving up on them."

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