"Wildcat" at Clemson?

CLEMSON - It's been rumored for months ... James Davis and C.J. Spiller getting snaps at quarterback. Could it happen? Will it happen? CUTigers.com checks in with James to get the latest.

It was just a year ago when Arkansas running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones set the college football world on fire by rushing for a combined 2,800 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Widely considered to make up the top offensive backfield in the country, McFadden and Jones offer an excellent combination of speed and power. In fact entering the 2007 season McFadden is considered to be a front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy as both backs look to go well over 1,000 yards once again.

However last season, the two were also utilized in what has come to be called the "Wildcat" formation.

In this formation, McFadden, lines up in the backfield as a quarterback right beside Jones. After taking the snap, he has the option to run the ball himself, hand the ball off to the speedy Jones, or throw the ball downfield.

While his passing numbers in 2006 were modest, he did complete 7-of-9 for 69 yards and three touchdowns. But it was the threat of McFadden receiving the snap and having the option to do just about anything he wanted to that kept opposing defenses on their heels all season.

Arkansas won the SEC West in 2006 and was ranked as high as fifth in the country before it lost the SEC Championship game to National Champion Florida and the Citrus Bowl to No. 5 Wisconsin. Still, the Razorbacks won 10 games and the creative use of McFadden and Jones was a big reason why.

Fast forward to 2007 and it appears the same thing could be happening at Clemson.

Head coach Tommy Bowden has said several times during the offseason he plans on putting star running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller on the field at the same time this year.

"We want to become the best tandem in the country," he said. "A lot of people have us No. 2 but we want to be in the No. 1 slot."
The two combined for over 2,100 yards and 29 touchdowns a year ago, but with nearly every team on the 2007 schedule expected to stack the line this year to prevent the two from taking over, more creativity could be needed to maximize their potential.

"We have to create different ways to get them the ball," Bowden said. "We can do some of the things Arkansas did last year. I think we can do a lot of things."

Of course Bowden is referring to utilizing both backs on the field at the same time, possibly at different positions - such as wide receiver or quarterback.

During the Tigers' first practice this year in which the first 30 minutes were open to the media, Davis and Spiller could be seen taking snaps in the shotgun alongside the other three scholarship quarterbacks.

Is it a ploy? Or could Davis and Spiller be utilized in the backfield at the quarterback position this season?

"They got me and C.J. all over the field," Davis said with a laugh. "We are going to be at wide receiver. We are going to be at tight end. We're going to be coaching. We are going to be doing it all."

While Davis likes to joke about the possibilities, one thing that has been confirmed this offseason is the two will be on the field at the same time much more than last season. Bowden has said he wants to get his top two playmakers on the field as much as possible.

"With who we open against this year, talking too much would defeat the purpose," Bowden said. "But if they're running backs are together, one has to be the lead blocker and that's not our strength."

So while Bowden will imply he wants to use the two at different positions, Clemson fans probably won't know exactly how until it actually happens on the field this fall.

And that's just fine with Davis. "I'll tell you coach Spence has us all over the field," he said. "But hopefully smiles are going to be on everybody's faces because they are trying to get me and C.J. in the game at the same. I think think that's what everybody wants to see. So we'll see.

"We want to become the best tandem in the country. A lot of people have us No. 2 but we want to be in the No. 1 slot."

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