Clemson's Smash & Dash?

CLEMSON - With C.J. Spiller standing on the sideline and James Davis prepping for the NFL Draft, the few people that were fortunate enough to watch Clemson's first scrimmage of the spring got the opportunity to get a glimpse of the Tigers' future running game.

The strange thing was it looked just like the last three years.

With the Thunder in Clemson's Thunder & Lightning backfield now gone, head coach Dabo Swinney and running backs coach Andre Powell elected to sit Spiller this spring so guys like sophomore Jamie Harper and redshirt freshman Andre Ellington could share the reps and get value experience.

And forgive me Tennessee Titans for stealing this idea, but what Swinney and Powell found was they replaced Thunder & Lightning with a little bit of Smash & Dash. The strange thing was the Smash & Dash was discovered in back-to-back plays about midway through the scrimmage.

With the ball resting on the 25-yard line during situational drills, Harper, who stands at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, took a handoff and hit the gap between right tackle and right guard and then hit the second level, where he ran over one would-be-tackler and then juked free safety Sadat Chambers to run into the end zone for a touchdown.

So, they lined back up and put the ball at the 25 again, and this time ran the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Ellington on to the field. Just like Harper, Ellington hit the whole, except he went up inside behind left guard. When he realized the hole had closed, Ellington spun out of the arms of a tackler, bounced to the outside and then out ran everyone to the corner and then down the sideline for an easy touchdown.

Just like that, two plays, two touchdowns. Sound familiar?

"If you look at it and compare C.J. and James to Andre and Jamie, that would be a very good comparison," Powell said. "I wasn't here when James and C.J. first got here. I don't know where they were from a maturity standpoint, from a football standpoint, but I will say those two young kids are two pretty good football players."

Like Davis and Spiller, Harper and Ellington each bring their own special qualities to the field, but at the same time have the ability to fill in or spell the other without there being a drop off in production. Just look at the first scrimmage for instance.

Harper carried the ball 11 times for 57 yards, while Ellington had six carries for 43 yards.

"They are talented and can do a lot of things," Powell said. "One guy may do something a little bit better than the other guy, but they can both be crossed trained. They have very good similarities.

"They have good ball skills. They have good running skills. They are disciplined. They can make plays. They can get to the second level and they can make people miss."

And keep in my, there is still a guy by the name of Spiller in the backfield. Having the potential of two quality running backs playing behind a Heisman Trophy Candidate, gives Clemson explosiveness at running back that some programs only dream about.

"They are talented guys," Powell said. "Obviously, they have not played a whole lot, but they just need to continue to get more reps and feel more comfortable and let things come natural to them." Top Stories