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Running Back Week
I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend. We did not publish a blog on the holiday so let’s cram a bunch in four days on a short week. This is running back week and we will begin with a look at the Tigers’ backs.
How would you like to be Clemson running back coach Burton Burns for the next year? Davis or Merriweather? Chancellor or Spiller? These are tough questions on every drive but a great dilemma for any coach. I know Burns would not trade his backs for any in the country.
James Davis might have been the most important player on the 2005 squad. Would Clemson have beaten Texas A&M without his fourth quarter heroics? Davis’ 19 carries and 101 yards were important but his toughness in the fourth quarter was the difference.
Clemson defeated N.C. State 31-10 but how would the game had gone if Davis did not have 143 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns in the first half?
Would Clemson have lost to Georgia Tech with Davis who did not play due to injury?
What would the score have been without Davis’s 143 yards and the game’s only touchdown against USC?
Colorado could not move the ball against the Tigers but it helped to have his 150 yards in the bowl game.
The true freshman last year set the woods on fire. Davis showed great acceleration out of his cuts. He broke tackles and made people miss. Because of his rare combination of a lot of very good attributes he became the most feared man in the Clemson offense in his first year.
Reggie Merriweather should not be forgotten in this offense. He made the play of the game in a great road win against Maryland. He also provided three 100-yard games during Davis’ absence with his wrist injury.
When the Tigers needed Merriweather he was there. He was there in overtime against Miami in the Orange Bowl to the tune of 117 yards. He was there to pound USC in Death Valley as a sophomore for 125 yards. And he will be there as a senior.
Merriweather gives a defender very little to hit. He shows them knee pads and shoulder pads. Merriweather runs low to the ground and with a great forward lean. He is the best short-yardage back on this team.
In the Spring, Demerick Chancellor looked as talented as any back on campus. He was tougher than I expected and showcased his speed often. Chancellor is not just a third-down back. He can become an every down back when the opportunity comes.
Spiller was the nation’s number-one all-purpose back in the country last year. He can make defenders miss. He can run by defenders. He can catch the football. Spiller will be a big part of the return game. But perhaps the part that will surprise Tiger fans the most is his toughness. Spiller is not just a run to daylight back. He reminds some of Terrell Davis, the former Denver back.
Spiller is a little faster but has a lot of James Davis in him. He is tough and takes football very serious. Like Davis, Spiller is a good kid that has a plan for his future. The one thing that amazed me about Davis more than anything else was how serious he took football. He was tremendously mature for his age. That is another major attribute Davis and Spiller share.
This group of backs is as deep and talented as any Clemson has had in recent years. This will be the strength of the 2006 squad.
It was nice to see some of the Memorial Day specials on television this weekend. It was very touching to see Major League Baseball do such a great job of honoring our ultimate heroes. Besides Christmas and Easter do we have any more important holiday in our country?
My heart goes out to the friends and family of Tiffany Marie Souers, the Clemson student who was found dead last week. May God be with the family in this most difficult of times.
Stop and Smell the Roses
The Tigers are the number-one national seed in the NCAA tournament and that is great news but lets still celebrate for another day or two the ACC title. Too often I witness a scenario where teams and fans don’t enjoy their accomplishments long enough. Championships don’t happen everyday. After every Super Bowl or national title game the next day ESPN’s Sports Center asks, “Can they repeat?” of “Is this the next dynasty?”
Please enjoy the ACC title until about Wednesday. This is the ACC title. It is the school’s first since Jack Leggett’s first year. It is a title that no one can take away. Two losses in the regional or super-regional can’t take it away.
When the regionals roll around Friday then it is time to focus on UNC-Asheville. Heck you can begin looking at the teams Wednesday night. But let’s not look ahead too fast. There were some unbelievable performances that still need to be celebrated. I will try to always remember:
*The merciful beating of Wake Forest in the first round.
*Ben Hall’s heroics in the first Georgia Tech game.
*A 10-run ninth vs GT in the third game against the Jackets.
*Sean Clark’s masterpiece.
*D.J. Mitchell’s sub-of-the-year performance throughout the tournament.
*Tyler Colvin’s MVP performance.
Football is the most important sport at Clemson. Basketball may be second if baseball is not. So remember, to win a conference title in a sport that is this important at Clemson is a big deal.
Clemson is the top national seed. They will not have to leave Doug Kingsmore to advance to Omaha. They are the favorites to win it all. This team may win it all. But until then please don’t forget about the 2006 ACC baseball champions Clemson Tigers.
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