Diagnosing the pistol

CLEMSON - Andre Ellington was as happy as anybody when he heard the Clemson coaching staff was planning a trip to Nevada to study the pistol formation.

Since 2008 the Wolfpack has finished now lower than 8th in the country in total rushing. They were first in 2009 and No. 3 in 2008 and 2010.

"I know they ran the zone pretty well in the pistol. I know they were rated No. 1, top-five in rushing, so I know they are capable of running the ball," he said. "I figure, I'm a guy that loves the zone, coaches go out there and get some stuff from them, they run it well. We should probably the same [success], too."

Ellington, who's rushed for 2,355 yards and 25 touchdowns during his first three years at Clemson, said the Tigers' offense will look a little bit different during his senior season.

"It is a lot [different]. The majority of our offense is the pistol now," he said.

Why the pistol?

"It's kind of hard for the defense to know where we're going as a back, because you're stacked behind the quarterback. It's kind of balanced now," Ellington said.

Brandon Ford said the formation gives running backs an edge on opposing linebackers.

"As far as running backs go, it gives the guys a chance to offset linebackers, rolling over and shifting over the gaps," Ford said. "It actually benefits Tajh more, because it doesn't give away everything or some things that we're doing, as far as play-action pass or power-read and even running some of our inside game."

The identity of Chad Morris' offense won't change. The pistol is a formation, not a totally new offense or way to scheme.

"It's a lot of the same stuff," Ellington said. "Some of our steps are a little different, coming from the pistol."

Less than a week before the Orange and White spring game, there's one play in particular the Tigers are running as well as any other.

"The zone is our best play right now," Ellington said. "That's our main play so, hopefully, we can build some other plays and get it right."

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