Kickoff Returns an Issue?

CLEMSON – While the Clemson offense and defense continue to be tinkered with, one aspect that has caught the coaching staff by surprise is how lackluster the kickoff returns have been.

After two games, the Tigers rank 81st in the country in kickoff returns. They have had a total of eight and have averaged just 18.13 yards per attempt.

Duane Coleman and C.J. Gaddis have done the majority of the returns, with Coleman leading the way for Clemson with a 19.67 average, or 71st best in the country.

It's a far cry from a year ago when the Tigers finished the season ranked third in the country in that area with Justin Miller ranking first in the nation with a 33.05 return average.

Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said Monday night that the problems lie with those other than Coleman and Gaddis.

"I don't think it's the returners, it's more of the blocking right now," he said. "I've looked at really, really hard. Our returners are good enough. Justin led the nation and right now we have nobody that's jumped out like him, but our kickoff and punt returns right now are average."

Saying the returns are mediocre is stretching just a bit at both ends.

There are 116 teams ranked in Division I and the Tigers are well below "average" in kickoff return yardage. However, at the same point, the punt returns are well above average with a 19.5 yard average, which equates to 13th best in the country.

"It's not schemes, it's personnel," Bowden said of kickoff returns. "We're looking at (making some personnel changes). It's more the other nine than those two."

Bowden also cited as a concern Clemson's kickoff return defense, which is giving up 23.67 yards per attempt, which ranks 91st in the country.

Expect those to be a heavy point of emphasis this week during practice.

Injury update
With defensive tackle Trey Tate getting close to a full recovery and offensive guard Brandon Pilgrim still nursing a strained shoulder, there were a few players with other slight problems Monday night. Free safety Roy Walker has a strained knee, nose guard Donnell Clark has a bad ankle and tight end Akeem Robinson has an infection, which isn't believed to be serious. Top Stories