How Will Davis, Spiller, Merriweather Work?

At this time a year ago, visions of grandeur were dancing in the minds of the Clemson football coaching staff at what the future held with soon-to-be freshman tailback James Davis. Now, those thoughts are twofold with the impending arrival of tailback C.J. Spiller.

Just how the coaching staff handles plans to handle the duo of Davis and Spiller is the looming question.

Will they substitute each other out? Will they play at the same time in a spilt formation? Will Spiller be red-shirted? What happens to senior Reggie Merriweather, who performed admirably the last two seasons?

For a glimpse into the future, went to Tigers running backs coach Burton Burns to try and find answers to these awaiting questions.

"James and Reggie have proven themselves and C.J. comes here with great potential," Burns said. "He's got a pretty good resume coming here. We're exactly like we were with James last year. We're just anxious to see how he's going to make that big adjustment in fall camp."

To be honest, not all of the questions have answers at this point. And they may not be anytime soon, even when spring practice starts on March 4.

"We're in the planning stages of how we're going to work those guys in," Burns said. "The thing right now is that you don't want to forget about Reggie. It's great to have all three of those guys right now.

"Obviously we want to come up with a good plan to get those guys involved with the offense as much as possible. But I really can't give you anything definite right now."

The popular outside theory is that Clemson will employ a two-back system, much in the same fashion as Southern Cal has the last couple of years with stars Reggie Bush and LenDale White.

With Davis being a pretty good pass catcher in a similar fashion as Bush, the opportunities for a wide variety of formations is nearly endless.

And considering there's no real option at this point for a fullback, a two-back set seems like the obvious solution.

"We haven't come up with any conclusions yet as to exactly how we want to go about it and that's what we're doing now," Burns said. "To say how exactly we're going to do it is a little premature right now.

"Right now, we're reevaluating everything we did last year. There's some things we can improve on in the running game and we're always looking for ways to get different guys on the field. We're known for a multiple formation team, and given our M.O., you'd like to get as many talented players on the field as possible, be it with four wideouts, three tight ends or two running backs. That's kind of what we're researching right now."

Regardless of what transpires, Burns is just happy that he's faced with such a difficult task of trying to find ways to keep all three backs happy. It's better to have too much talent than not enough.

"I don't think you can ever have enough running backs," Burns said. "Last year, things happened. You go back every year, players go down. Without saying anything else, depth is what we have at this moment like we haven't had with the potential talent level. They can bring that position up to another level.

Now all the coaching staff has to do is help them do it. Top Stories