Davis Talks Offense, the NFL, Korn

CLEMSON – James Davis has long been a favorite of the media because it's not very often when the best player on a team is such a good speaker with a great sense of humor. He's also smart and is an all-around pleasure to talk to. But most importantly, he speaks his mind.

That's why it wasn't at all surprising when Clemson's junior tailback sat down for a 20-minute interview Monday that he offered opinions on a wide variety of topics.

PASSING GAME: Davis found out last year just how important it is for his success to have a quarterback who can actually throw with consistency, accuracy and stretch the field.

That's why he wasn't the least bit upset or surprised that the Clemson coaching staff asked quarterback Cullen Harper to make so many passes against Louisiana-Monroe this past Saturday.

"I feel like this last game, we just wanted to get Cullen going and get him into a groove," Davis said. "We don't want it to happen like last year when we couldn't throw the ball deep down field and vertical. "I've kind of discussed it with C.J. (Spiller). We do have to get this passing game going and that's one thing I know we've got to work on this year. I hope we go into the next game and try to do the same thing."

If the passing game falters, teams will continue to load up the box with eight and sometimes nine defenders, which will in turn limit the success of Davis and Spiller.

"I think there are still going to be some teams that are going to try and challenge Cullen and just try to see if he can throw the ball," Davis said. "I think if we can pass the ball, we can definitely open up some big runs. We've really got to utilize our receivers. Those guys can make big plays and they catch the ball well."

REDZONE OFFENSE: Nobody in Memorial Stadium was more shocked that the Tigers threw the ball when they got inside Louisiana-Monroe's 20 yard-line than Davis.

Nearly every time last year, it was run on first down, run on second and then maybe throw on third down.

"I was kind of surprised to see us throw the ball in the redzone," he said. "I kind of smiled when (Spence) called the play and called both running backs off the field."

Maybe things would have been different last year against Maryland and South Carolina had the offense not been so predictable near the goal line.

"You kind of think about it," Davis said. "But (Spence) is so open this year. He was telling me that he took a vacation somewhere and he just opened his mind up. I just think right now that he's got a lot of confidence in Cullen."

Davis said that Spence informed him that he had some sort of revelation while vacationing and sitting on a beach somewhere.

"I really can't (picture him on the beach)," Davis said. "I was kind of laughing when me and C.J. were in the meeting room talking to him and he was telling us how he was on the beach and he's opened his mind this year. I was like, Coach Spence on the beach?"

LEAVING EARLY: If you think it's a foregone conclusion that Davis is leaving for the NFL after this season, you might want to rethink your position.

"My mom keeps telling me that she wants me to graduate," he said. "Right now, I'm leaning all the way to staying. I'm almost certain that I will probably come back next year. Coach Bowden talked to me earlier this year and I looked at it and I can probably be the top running back coming out in my senior class.

"There's a lot to look at. Just like last year with Gaines Adams when he stayed another year and was able to make all those millions of dollars. I still kind of look at it that way. But if I'm a top three running back, I'll probably come out."

Davis understands why so many people just assume he's leaving. But just remember what happens when you assume.

"I can see where they come from probably because I've got a kid and they probably feel that I just want to go right ahead right now," he said. "But I'm not really hurting financially too much to make me change my mind."

KORN FAN: Davis made no secrets that he likes the way freshman quarterback Willy Korn plays. He said he believes the star recruit can feel the pressure better than Harper and that Korn's legs are an added weapon.

However, Davis also said that Harper is much better and making the right reads and getting the ball to the open receiver. Even so, Davis wants Korn on the field in one shape or form.

"I think Coach has got to find a way to try and put that guy on the field some kind of way," Davis said. "I definitely think he should get some plays at running back. He can run the ball like (Florida quarterback) Tim Tebow is running the ball.

"It would open some things up for some halfback passes. If you could put him on the field, it would definitely make defenses key on him. You've got to use him as something.

"I talked to Coach and told him just to line him up at wide receiver and you fake the screen and go the other way, I think it would definitely open it up for the offense."

Davis added that Korn isn't the only one that can do multiple things. He thinks he can be a quarterback, or at least act like one out of the running back position.

"I try to throw the ball when he's looking, but Coach Spence really never pays attention," he said. "I don't think he's going to change the offense too much."

QUICK THOUGHTS: Even though the game is still three weeks away, Davis is already talking with good friend and Georgia Tech starting receiver Greg Smith about the upcoming meeting between the two teams.

The two friends went to the same high school and are hoping that they're both undefeated entering that game. But Davis said he isn't looking past N.C. State because that's where he broke his wrist as a freshman. Prior to his injury at the start of the third quarter, Davis was having one the best rushing games in Clemson history.

Nonetheless, Davis is still thinking about playing in front of his hometown crowd in Atlanta.

"I'm already right now trying to get tickets for that game," he said. "I want to have at least 40 people at the game. I want to have my own little section for that game. If I score a touchdown, they're going to go crazy down there." …

Davis said the biggest question surrounding the offense isn't that of Harper.

"I'd say the offensive line," he said. "They've got to get better. They're coming along. They do a real good job of pass blocking, but with the run blocking, I think they can do a little bit better. But that shouldn't take that much. Coach Scott is on those guys everyday in practice.

"You can mess up against teams like (Louisiana-Monroe and Furman), but when you go and try to play some real games against some ACC teams, then it will be time (for the line) to play. You've got to get all those (correct blocking) keys."

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