Davis Assesses Tigers

CLEMSON - One might think James Davis was chomping at the bit Saturday when the No. 23 Clemson Tigers began that decisive fourth quarter drive at their own 4-yard line in the their 27-9 victory over N.C. State.

It was a situation made perfectly for the 5-foot-11, 215-pound running back. It was a situation that he came to Clemson to do.

But on this day, it was C.J. Spiller's turn.

Spiller, who is known more for his lightning quick speed, carried the ball for 45 of the Tigers 96-yards on the eight-minute drive, including a 12-yard scamper around left end that clinched the victory. During the drive, Spiller ran up the middle, plowing through would-be tacklers for gains of 7, 9, 6, 11 and of course the 12-yard touchdown.

"Maybe this is his year and it is his time to step up and probably have more rushing yards than me," Davis said to the media Monday. "I think he has the potential, year in and year out, to do that. He is a guy that can probably break more long runs with his speed."

And that is probably why offensive coordinator Rob Spence had Spiller in the game to begin with. Davis is known more as in between the tackles type runner, running behind the guards while grinding out four and five-yard gains. But with an offensive line that had three freshmen in the lineup Saturday, and Davis only averaging 2.4 yards on 14 carries, it was obvious Clemson needed Spiller's escape ability to offset the lines inexperience.

"I'm just patient right now," Davis said. "I know if it is going to come, it is probably going to come at the end. I'm being patient right now because I know we have a lot of young guys up front. It is going to be tough (to run up) in there."

Hearing Davis' patience is quite a contrast from years past. Davis has been known to express his feelings on occasions when he felt he wasn't getting used enough or he thought there was some sort of wrong doing going on.

After the South Carolina game in 2006, he expressed his displeasure when former running back Reggie Merriweather was taken out of the game after having great success. He also let the coaches know following the 2006 Music City Bowl and after last year's South Carolina game that he wasn't happy with how he was used.

Despite rushing for just 154 yards in three games and only one rushing touchdown, Davis isn't disgruntled at all about his low numbers so far this year. In fact, he seems to be at peace with it.

"When I made the decision to come back, I knew the sacrifices I was going to have to make," he said. "C.J. is a guy that has that NFL potential and this is a year for him that he is probably going to get looked at. You have to look at it both ways. I'm not a selfish guy.

"There have been times in years past that I wanted the ball and that I wanted to help my team win. That was just me and the attitude that I had. Now, I see C.J. is becoming a much better runner and is doing everything he can to help the team win. I have to play that role because I have a guy on my side who I know wants it just as much as I do."

But what about the school's all-time rushing record that's at stake or what about the NFL? Davis, who needs 683 yards to pass Raymond Priester as the school's all-time leading rusher, is considered to be one of the top 5 running backs in college football this season.

"If it is going to come, it is going to come. I would rather win a championship than break the record," he said. "I think the ACC Championship is bigger. I would still like to get that many yards, but if I can go into the championship game and have a big game, then it is still going to be there.

"The NFL is always going to be there. You have to look at this as a team thing. The NFL wants guys on their teams that come from winning programs. I think that is the main focus right now.

"Those guys have evaluations too. They look at your offensive line. Like me, they look at the past years and they have seen what I have done. But like now, I'm probably struggling because of the young offensive line. I think as those guys get developed as the year goes on and we stick with those same guys they will get better."

So what's Davis' motivation in all of this?

"My motivation is for me is to do everything I can to help my team win," he said. "You can just tell that I'm kind of relaxed right now. I'm just a team player and I'm going to do whatever it takes to help my team win.

"I think that if you get that and have everybody on the same page then you will win more games."

CUTigers.com Top Stories