Speed to Burn

by - Correspondent -
C.J. Spiller is averaging 43.5 yards per kick-off return.

CLEMSON -- Big plays have become a trademark for the Clemson Tigers against the Boston College Eagles.

And why not?

In running back C.J. Spiller and wide receiver Jacoby Ford, the Tigers put two of the fastest, most explosive playmakers in college football on the field every game. Ford is considered by many as the fastest player in college football today, while Spiller combines his speed with an elusiveness not matched by many runners.

The numbers for the pair so far this season tell the story for the Tiger’s offense.

Ford and Spiller accounted for 69 percent of the Tiger’s offensive yardage against Georgia Tech. Ford is averaging 22.4 yards per catch this season, while Spiller averages 17.3 a catch. Both scored on catches of 77 and 63 yards respectively.

Toss in Spillers’ 405 all-purpose yards – he averages 31.5 yards per punt return and 43.5 yards per kick-off return – and it’s no wonder Boston College is concerned about the Tigers’ speed and big play capability heading into Saturday’s noon showdown between the two Atlantic Division foes.

In the teams’ four meetings since the Eagles joined the ACC, four of the nine touchdowns scored in regulation by the Tigers went for 20 yards or longer. And the final touchdown in last year’s game was set up when Spiller scampered 64-yards on a kick-off return.

First year Eagles Coach Frank Spaziani said Tuesday the Tigers “are the same old ones; big, fast, tough, skilled, well coached.

“Any time you have to practice against speed, it’s going to be very difficult,” he said.

Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney also understands the advantage his team has with Spiller and Ford on the field.

“I have never seen anyone as fast as Jacoby. I have seen some Spiller speed in my day, but Jacoby speed is another deal,” Swinney said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “Speed is a hard thing to coach against. These two guys are just blazing fast and they take a lot of pride in it.”

Spiller is aware of the success he has had against Boston College in the past and would welcome another big game against the Eagles “as long as we get the win,” he said.

In the game at Chestnut Hills last season, Spiller gained 66 yards on 13 carries, caught six passes for 105 yards, returned a kick-off 64 yards and scored a touchdown in the Tiger victory. In 2006 and 2007, Spiller had 84 yards rushing on 16 carries, four catches for 98 yards, four returns for 77 yards and a touchdown.

“It will be great to go out there and have a good game against those guys,” Spiller said. “They’re very physical, they’re very talented. I’m going to do everything I can this week to position myself to help our team win.”

He credits his team for giving him the opportunities for big plays against the Eagles in the past.

“All the credit goes to my offensive line,” Spiller said. “They do a great job of covering those guys up. I just try to make a play for our team, give them good field position and keep the chains moving.”

Against Georgia Tech Thursday night, Spiller touched the ball 27 times – a career high.

Against Boston College’s defense the senior may be asked to carry the load again. He said he knows what to expect from the Eagles defense.

“Same old Boston College physical upfront, linebackers going to drop in coverage and make sure you don’t get to flats,” Spiller said. “They’re going to play that shell defense to keep our receivers from getting deep.”

With Ford at wide receiver the Tigers know they have a dangerous weapon when throwing the football deep.

“They don’t give you huge opportunities as far as getting behind them, so you have to take advantage of those chances when they do come,” Swinney said.

Ford agreed with his coach.

“They don’t give up a lot of big plays,” Ford said. “Whenever you do get a chance you have to take it and capitalize on any mistake that they do make. You have to use your speed on them. They’re big. You have to stretch them out as much as possible with speed on the field.”

Clemson Injury Report for Boston College

Out for the Season - J.K. Jay, OT, back

Doubtful - None

Questionable - None

Probable - Michael Palmer, TE, hip

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