High Expectations Surround Spring Practice

CLEMSON – With the start of spring practice set to begin Saturday morning, head coach Tommy Bowden gave a brief outline Thursday afternoon of what he hopes to accomplish and what changes in all phases are forthcoming.

One of the biggest question fans and media alike have had is what changes will be employed into the running game now that there is three very good tailbacks and no true fullback.

"We had a good bit of two-back offense last year with split backs, but it involved (fullbacks) Cliff Harrell and Steven Jackson," Bowden said. "This year, it will involve another tailback-type body. We don't have any fullback-type bodies that we feel comfortable carrying the ball in that position. …

"You could see some two-back offense, but the plan of attack would be different. … The tailback as opposed to the fullback could be more explosive."

Between James Davis, Reggie Merriweather, C.J. Spiller, who arrives in August, and Demerick Chancellor, it's easy to understand why Bowden would want at least two of them on the field at all times.

However, the unknown is Chancellor and just how he'll fit in and if he'll actually get playing time.

"He's the one I'm most interested in seeing this spring," running backs coach Burton Burns said. "He's a speed guy that was on defense last year. I want to see if he can control his speed and set up his blocks. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does."

The depth with this Tigers team isn't just at tailback. They are deep up front on the line and have some quality receivers, one of which has become a nomad.

Sophomore Rendrick Taylor has had a new position created for him and it's known as the "J" receiver. Although that can be a little misleading because he's not always going to be a receiver.

Bowden said that Taylor will play receiver, fullback, H-back and tight end.

"Rendrick, because of his size, allows you the flexibility of getting him involved with some fullback, tight end type positions with wide receiver skills," Bowden said. "We're trying to get the best guys on the field."

With all the tools and offensive weapons Clemson has this year, Bowden believes the Tigers are close to equaling those type of players at Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech.

"I think so," he said. "As I've mentioned in the last couple of press conferences, I think the talent level has picked up here. … We do have more weapons on both sides of the ball, but that's kind of what Virginia Tech, Florida State and Miami have been playing with. I think we're closing the talent gap a little bit, but we haven't closed it completely."

With 18 players returning that started at least one game last season, it's easy to see why the Tigers are a sexy pick to challenge for the Atlantic Division and ACC title.

"We do have the combination of having accomplished some things last year and a good number of players coming back," Bowden said on being considered to be a title contender. "I think we'd be right up there based on record last year and who we've got coming back."

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