Three's Company

My family has always told me that a man cannot reach his full potential until he is married. Although it sounded strange to me, the concept is that a man takes his good qualities and a woman's good qualities and together they make a better whole. Personally, I never really understood the concept until last year, when I watched Duane Coleman combine his excellent hands and speed with Chad Jasmin's power running game to form a match made in heaven.

Going into the spring, Clemson fans already had envisioned Yusef Kelly stepping right into Chad Jasmin's role as short yardage specialist. Ask anybody and they'll tell you that Kelly, along with Duane Coleman will make sure that the 2004 backfield will move forward without missing a beat.

My question is, if you can take two people and join their best qualities to make a better whole, what would happen if you throw a 3rd person into the mix? No, I'm not talking about anything illegal here or even something I'm hiding from my significant other.

I'm talking about redshirt sophomore Reggie Merriweather.

Whether you're a long time fan or a just a novice spectator, one thing has been obvious this spring and that is that Clemson has three very talented tailbacks.

Three talented running backs with little separation between them.

Each one has their own qualities that are different from the other. Duane Coleman is the fastest of the bunch and is the best in the open field. Coleman also became a favorite target of Charlie Whitehust this past year, showing reliable hands in traffic.

Yusef Kelly has been used most in short yardage situations. This spring he showed his powerful leg drive that fans all know him for and he demonstrated the ability to get to the outside and outrun defenders.

Reggie Merriweather also dazzled. Once again, he is the back that has been able to get into the secondary for long runs. Merriweather combines a strong leg drive with superior vision to add another dimension to the running game. Although he might not be as fast as the other two, he has shown the ability to make quicker, sharper cuts between the tackles.

As I watched him rip through the defense one more time last Saturday, I decided then and there that I would be the first to defend Merriweather as his accusers declare that it could just be another spring hoax.

The fact is, only his lack of knowledge of the offense and inability to make the proper blocks kept him out of the starting lineup last fall.

Now don't think I'm crazy here, I'm not predicting that Duane Coleman, who has a year of experience and has had an impressive spring of his own, will be surpassed in the starting lineup by Reggie Merriweather. But from what I've seen this spring, Clemson fans can look forward to a new look offense this coming fall, one that allows Charlie Whitehurst to sit in the shotgun, the formation that he is most comfortable in.

Whitehurst will be flanked by two of his talented ground gainers, one on each side of him. This will allow all three running backs to be involved in the offense, and has proven to be effective this spring as Bowden has continuously praised his running backs and asked the defensive line to step up and stop the run.

Make no mistake about it, Bowden has set lofty goals for this bunch, considering that the offense only averaged 136 yards on the ground over the first eight games last year. But his optimism comes from a season ending four game stretch in which the Tigers dominated their opponents, and averaged 172 yards a game on the ground in doing so.

Bowden is looking to build off this momentum, and he's raised the standard, focusing on the goal of getting 200 yards a game from his trio of backs. 200 rushing yards a game makes this offense almost unstoppable, especially when you consider the guy running the show back there at quarterback.

And that my friends, is the sound of music to my ears……

Or is that just wedding bells I hear?

Editor's Note: Justin is a new writer for CUTigers.com and will provide analysis and opinions throughout the off-season and into next football season. The addition of Justin will diversify and add to our site as we continue to improve in our quest to be the number one Clemson athletic site on the web.

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