MMQB: This is Spiller's Offense

Dan Scott weighs in with his weekly Monday morning quarterback column for CUTigers.com. Up for discussion today: Cullen Harper's improved play as of late and the fact that this has quickly become C.J. Spiller's offense.

A few random thoughts after dusting the Dookies:

Cullen Harper has been the object of much criticism this season, most of it warranted.

From his apparent slap at Tommy Bowden to his propensity for throwing touchdowns to the other team, it has not been the dream senior season Harper likely anticipated. Far from it.

But you know what? Ever so slowly it looks as if he's coming around.

His play vs. Boston College was solid, minus the interception for a score. And at Florida State, after making the same mistake against the Seminoles he proceeded to put together an effective, courageous performance while taking a tremendous beating.

In fact, I'm not sure I've seen a Clemson quarterback get bloodied that badly since Bowden let Texas Tech pummel Charlie Whitehurst black and blue down in Orlando a few years back.

Saturday, Harper looked more like the quarterback from last season. Solid, if not spectacular, and making mostly good decisions and accurate throws.

Head coach Dabo Swinney attributed part of it to improved footwork and an ability to make things happen when the play breaks down. And goodness knows he's had plenty of experience in that area this season, given the struggles of his offensive line.

The point is simply this. It's been convenient to beat up on Harper all season long, mostly because he's provided an easy target. But in fairness, his play over the last three games or so has shown steady improvement.

Junior RB C.J. Spiller now has 506 rushing yards, 379 receiving yards, 344 kickoff return yards, 103 punt return yards and 11 touchdowns on the season.
And with two daunting challenges remaining - at Virginia and home for South Carolina - Clemson needs Harper at his best if they have any hopes of running the table and becoming bowl eligible.

Maybe, just maybe, he's headed in that direction.

***

Coaches try to make football out to be such a complicated game. But to be honest, it seems very simple to me.

At least here at Clemson.

All you do is get the ball in C.J. Spiller's hands 20 or more times a game and your offense has a chance to be pretty darn successful. Can't get much easier than that.

Yeah, I know. It's actually a very complicated sport. But Spiller is one of those rare athletes who makes the game look easy. And since he's become a tougher runner, one not afraid of contact, it seems as if his entire game has come together.

Say what you want about Thunder and Lightning. The cold, hard facts as they stand right now are painfully obvious. This is Spiller's offense. If he gets loose you've got a shot to win games.

His running and receiving has allowed others in the lineup - Aaron Kelly, Jacoby Ford and James Davis - to operate with a bit more freedom. And it's made all of them more effective.

Spiller said he plans to return for his senior season at Clemson.

Based on the way he's playing at the moment, I'm not sure that's a bet I'd take.

***

Interviewed Dabo on my show Thursday, as per usual. He sounded tired.

I don't think he's gotten what could be classified as a full night's sleep since he took over the program.

If hard work alone was enough to win this job, he'd have a contract already.

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