What will Clemson do on 3rd-and-2?

CLEMSON - A full week into preseason camp, the question remains: what will Clemson do in short-yardage situations this season?

For the last three years, Clemson established a clear identity in short yardage situations.

Tajh Boyd.

In the Pistol.

Quick run off tackle.

Push the pile.

First down.

Literally... it was that easy. Whether it was 3rd-and-2 or 4th-and-goal, Boyd produced first downs and touchdowns at a record clip. And there was never any mystery behind what was going on.

From the casual fan in the stands to the opposing defensive coordinator and head coach, everyone knew what Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris was going to dial up.

And it still was nearly unstoppable.

However entering the 2014 season, Clemson's approach in these situations isn't quite as clear. With a new starting quarterback in Cole Stoudt, a new running back in the backfield and two new starters on the offensive line, Morris could try a similar tactic or perhaps go down a different road altogether.

With as many as seven running backs vying for playing time, it would seem logical to assume they could be more involved in these types of scenarios. The Tigers have a handful of bigger backs this year, including a pair of freshmen in C.J. Fuller and Adam Choice at 216 and 211 pounds respectively.

And Dabo Swinney said earlier this week, "The one position on this team I'm not worried about is running back. We're going to be just fine there."

There's Wayne Gallman and potentially Tyshon Dye. Morris describes Gallman as the team's most "violent runner" and Dye, when healthy, has always been the bigger back in this offense that Morris has coveted.



There's also the big bruiser Kurt Fleming. A transfer from Army, Fleming looks like a pile-mover himself. At 6-0, 235 pounds, he's big enough to do ... well, whatever he wants to.

Swinney labeled Fleming "a developmental player" earlier this week, but he certainly looks the part.

Clemson also utilized tight end J.J. McCullough as a ball carrier in The Citadel game last year and again during spring practice. At 6-3, 235 pounds, he's earned the trust of the coaching staff and is another physical option for Morris.

"I did a lot of it in the spring," McCullough tells CUTigers. "But I haven't done it yet in the first week of practice. I've been more focused on getting everything down at tight end."

Last but not least, the Tigers could still utilize the quarterback like they always have.

After all, Stoudt is up to 231 pounds, which was technically bigger than Boyd ever was, and he tell CUTigers he did it with one thing in mind.

"Tajh used to make fun of me when I got tackled, telling me I had legs flying all over the place," Stoudt said. "But I did to be able to take those hits a little bit better. I needed to get bigger."

Most would agree Stoudt is probably a half-step quicker than Boyd anyways. So if he's big enough and somewhat faster, why not use him in short yardage?

Perhaps it's because he's 6-feet-4 inches tall it makes it look slightly awkward at times. I mean, Cole reminds us more of quarterbacks like Charlie Whitehurst than Woody Dantzler or Rodney Williams - quarterbacks who we knew were going to run it.

Maybe it's because we just aren't used to seeing him on the field on those plays yet.

Regardless, it stands to reason Stoudt will be given the first shot. If he can hold up, perhaps it will be business as usual for Clemson in short-yardage situations.

If not, given all the other options in the backfield, Plan B doesn't look that bad either.

CUTigers.com Top Stories