Ellington's role will increase

CLEMSON - Running backs coach/special tams coordinator Andre Powell talks about the running back duo and the return game on Monday afternoon at the West End Zone.

Through five games this season, Andre Ellington's rushed for 435 yards and seven touchdowns this season, and averages 6.6 yards per carry.

His 87 yards per game ranks third in the ACC.

Meanwhile his counterpart, Jamie Harper, has picked up 238 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said after Saturday's loss at North Carolina he expected Ellington's work load would increase in the coming weeks, and Andre Powell backed up those thoughts Monday at the West End Zone:

Will Ellington play more on Saturday?
Powell: I think Dabo's right. Andre's been very productive. He's truly been one of our best players on offense. When you get a guy like that and you're trying to win a ball game, you've got to try to get him the ball as many plays as you can.

Do you feel he's earned the right to be the true No. 1?
Powell: Yes. There's no doubt about it. Keep in mind—he can't play 60 plays a game. We're going to have to roll backs into the game, one way or the other.

How many touches do you want him to get, moving forward?
Powell: As many as he can handle. When he starts getting 25 carries, I'm not for sure his 23rd, 24th and 25th carry will be as good as Jamie's 12th and 13th carry. Every game, it's going to vary. The thing that we've got to do, we've got to get him the ball more.

"When he starts getting 25 carries, I'm not for sure his 23rd, 24th and 25th carry will be as good as Jamie's 12th and 13th carry." (Roy Philpott)
Were Ellington and Harper subbing each other in and out Saturday?
Powell: Absolutely.

Will that change now?
Powell: If a guy's tired, he needs to come out of the game. Whoever is in the game needs to be where they can perform at a high level. If a guy's tired, we need to sub him.

Have you talked to Jamie at all about Andre getting an increased role?
Powell: Not specifically, no. I told Jamie, he's not living right. It seems like every time he get a touch, there was something that went on with the play. We ran a lead play; we missed a block on the edge. We run a power play, they blitz off the back-side. He just had a bad draw. I'm not down on Jamie, at all. I think, sometimes, you guys make a bigger deal than what it is. Andre's been very productive. He's been very productive in every game. We've had to play two backs in every game. We've got to have Jamie in the offense. I think you guys make a bigger deal out it than I'm going to make. Those other guys played when C.J. [Spiller] was here. C.J. stubbed his toe. Somebody else had to go into the game. Can't play C.J. every play. Can't play Andre every play.

Do you see DeAndre Hopkins getting an increased role at punt return?
Powell: In fairness to the team, we need to reduce [Marcus] Gilchrist's role. Gilchrist is playing a minimum of 60 plays a game on defense. You throw in five or six punt returns, five or six kickoff returns and five or six punts, over the course of a 12 game season, that's a lot of plays. Gilchrist was the guy who played the most snaps on this team last year. He's got more of a role on defense this year. In fairness to the team, we need to reduce his role in some places.

Could Jamie run with more power, hit the hole harder?
Powell: The defense needs to start blitzing off the back edge and they need to stop blitzing when he's in the game.

Is Rod McDowell going to help out on offense moving forward?
Powell: He could. He needs to perform in practice. He needs to do what we ask him to do. He has not performed the way we would like for him to perform since he suffered the concussion at the end of two-a-days.

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