Clemson Football Notebook

CLEMSON – With freshman tailback James Davis out with a broken wrist, Reggie Merriweather obviously becomes the starter for Clemson, and Kyle Browning will move up from third to second string.

But there are some surprising answers as to who could fill the third team void left by Browning.

Running backs coach Burton Burns said the Tigers have a few options at running back and they may not be exactly what people first assumed.

According to Burns, the options are to use fullback Cliff Harrell there at times because he knows how to handle both positions. And regardless of what happens, he will still likely see a little bit of time at tailback.

Walk-on Paul Macko, who performed well in scrimmages during the spring, is a hard-nosed runner and another possibility, Burns said.

Then there's true freshman Demerick Chancellor, who is in the midst of being red-shirted.

"The deal with Demerick, he's a potential red-shirt guy, but you might have to pull it off of him," Burns said. "It happened a few years ago around here, so he's a possibility."

Duane Coleman, who was switched to cornerback from tailback a few games into this season, is the last option. "We've thought about him," Burns said. "Duane knows the stuff. He's not too far removed from it. He'd be an obvious guy that can kind of step in and get the job done."

However, Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden said he felt it was unlikely Coleman would move because he has come on strong on defense. Also, Burns added that the final decision wouldn't likely come until Tuesday.

"We're just taking our time thinking about it," he said. "We've got some solutions, but we've just got to figure out which ones are the right ones."

Regardless of who plays, Bowden is looking for someone to put up some numbers.

"The biggest thing we've got to have, somebody has got to pick up James Davis' slack – 150 yards at halftime … I haven't had that in the seven years I've been here," he said. "It might have to be a quarterback, it might have to be a wide out, it might have to be a line or somebody, but somebody has got to make up for that loss of production."

Davis update
Davis left practice today with a plastic cast covering his wrist up to the middle of his forearm as a result of undergoing surgery to repair his fractured wrist a few days ago.

Davis said a rod was placed in his arm to keep it stable to speed up the recovery process. Despite what has been said about a three-four week return, he's thinking it could happen much sooner.

"I think Coach Bowden told me three weeks and the Duke game, but I think it all depends on how well I feel," he said "I'm still shooting for the Georgia Tech game, because I really want to play there in my hometown."

However, Burns is a little more cautious.

"He understands that injuries are a part of the game of football and the most important thing to him right now is to get healed 100 percent," he said. "He wants to play, but he'll do what he has to do and he'll know when he's ready. We'll just take this thing day-by-day and week-by-week and see where it goes. It's going to be up to the medical staff. He has to be 100 percent healed before we let him back on the field."

Special team woes
Clemson had its third punt of the season blocked Thursday night and if that wasn't bad enough, the N.C. State kickoff return team had a big outburst and piled up yardage left and right.

As a result, there will be some changes with each unit come Saturday's game against Temple.

"We moved some people around at different positions and give some people that haven't been playing an opportunity to see if they can show up," said punting unit coach Jack Hines. "We've got some people that haven't carried their end of the bargain, so we're going to maybe move them down and give those other players (a chance), but I've got to put the best 11 on the field, so we'll see how practice goes this week. …

"We'll tweak the scheme a little bit, but we can't change and go to another scheme of any kind, so we're just going to get what we do and do it a little bit better."

Expect some of the same with the kickoff coverage unit.

"We've got to get better and that starts with me. I coach the team and I'm accountable for it. We've got to get better at it. It's not acceptable," said kickoff team coach David Blackwell. "We've led the ACC in two-out-three years and we've got eight guys back that are starting on this team that have been on it at least two years, so the personnel is not a whole lot different then it was last year. …

"We'll make a few personnel changes, but we're not going to drastically panic and change something. We're going to get better at what we do and we're going to execute. I've got to fix what's being coached. We worked extremely hard on it today."

With each unit, it's been a different breakdown or player every time. It hasn't been one consistent flaw.

"The biggest thing is we can't make one-on-one tackles on that team," Blackwell said. "We've got to gang tackle. It can't come down to one guy having to make a play and right now that's what it's come down to too much. …

"I spent all weekend evaluating it. I'm comfortable with what we do. I believe in what we're doing because I know it works and we've done it. There are three NFL teams doing the same thing we're doing, one of which I got it from. … I will get it corrected. It's my job to get it corrected and it's going to get corrected. … The biggest change is I've got coach better." Top Stories