RBs have smashing scrimmage

CLEMSON — When he got up this morning, Jamie Harper just knew it was going to be his day.

With the rain already coming down at 8 AM and knowing it was only going to get worse for the Clemson Tigers' first scrimmage of the spring, all he could do was smile.

"Really and truly, a running back gets happy with the rain," Harper said. "You know there is going to be a lot more running."

And Harper ran the football ... a lot.

He opened the two-hour scrimmage Saturday with an 11-yard run that set the tone for the rest of the morning. And by the time it was all said and done, he tallied 57 yards on 11 carries, including a 25-yard touchdown that made senior safety Sadat Chambers come out of his shoes.

"Being a big back, everyone just expects you to plunge over defenders, but to come in and be a slasher every now and then it kind of keeps them off balance so I can gain extra yardage," Harper said.

Just for good measure, Harper scored three more touchdowns on fourth-and-goal situations after the scrimmage.

"We ran the ball well, but No. 8 speaks for himself. He is an animal," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.

In all, Clemson finished the day with 200 yards rushing as Andre Ellington rushed for 46 yards on six carries and Rendrick Taylor had 48 on eight carries. Like Harper, Ellington had a 25-yard touchdown, when he took a handoff and hit it up inside before spinning to the outside for a wide open run into the end zone.

C.J. Spiller, who watched for two hours on the sideline, did not play.

Taylor had a 3-yard touchdown during goal line situations, but he also had a couple of power runs in which he took a linebacker and safety head on and still gained three, four or five yards with relative ease.

"I really feel like Coach Swinney is really trying to see where I'm going to be able to play and help the team out," Taylor said. "He knows Ellington and Harper can run the ball, but they are going to need a big back on short yardage and that's what he is trying to create."

Unlike Harper, Taylor, who said he now weighs 265 pounds, says he welcomes contact, especially in those short yardage situations.

"I will lower the shoulder," he said. "You have to utilize your strengths. I'm a big guy. I know I can't go out there and do a lot of juking and spin moves so I have to use my size and lower my shoulders and run over people."

Clemson used Taylor in many different ways Saturday. Besides running back, he was lined up at tight end, the flex dot in the slot position and as a fullback.

"They are creating different scenarios and situations to get me on the field and to get me the ball," Taylor said. "It is real exciting. It creates problems for opposing defenses. Our defense has had problems with it early on so it is real exciting to be out on the field in different situations.

"You know that you are not just a running back or a tight end. You can play any position and there are a lot of teams that are looking for somebody like that."

Clemson is glad it already has one.

"I don't know even how to explain him. He's 265 pounds," Swinney said. "He's got the ball skills of a wide out. He's learning the physical side of it from the inside. We are playing him at three different positions, but he showed he can be a force to be reckoned with."

As does Clemson's running game.

"Coming out here in these elements means the passing game is going to be low and it also means the running game is going to have to step up," Harper said. "The defense knows that too. But the offensive line gave us the surge we needed and opened up holes."

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