It's a must win

CLEMSON - Next week's noon game versus Wake Forest not only marks the halfway point to C.J. Spiller's senior year but is also a must win for Clemson if the Tigers are to have any hope of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division.

"We just have to come to practice and execute and don't have any negative energy," he said.

Spiller believes this year's Tigers are different than those of the past.

Since the opening of camp, Coach Dabo Swinney has gushed about how close this team is. Spiller agrees. He doesn't see any potential splintering, even with three losses this early in the season.

Spiller said opinions from outside of the team can't be a factor in breaking up what's been a tight-knit bunch.

"It's my job and these other seniors job to make sure that these guys understand that you're going to get criticism when you're not winning," he said. "That's part of being a college athlete. We just have to be able to handle it the right way and I think we've done that so far."

The open date today comes at a good time for Spiller, who can not only rest his injured toes but also get some extra time to break down the Wake Forest defense. It's one extra week he can use to look for ways to gash the Demon Deacons and add on to an already impressive career highlight reel.

During the fourth quarter of last week's 24-21 loss at Maryland, he caught a screen pass that looked to be set up perfectly. The throw was on the money and the blocks would have set up perfectly.

Instead of adding one more play to the reel, Spiller trips up over his own feet and the play goes for a loss of four yards. What would have been the go ahead touchdown ended right there on the Maryland 31.

As soon as he hit the ground, Spiller was upset with himself.

"I had all the faith in the world that the guys had their blocks and there was a chance for me to score," he said. "To saw it on film the other day, there wasn't really anyone there. My two offensive linemen would have covered up the two guys coming down. It would have been a big touchdown."

Spiller admits that even he, Heisman Trophy candidate, ACC career all-purpose yardage leader, world class speed and all isn't immune from a mistake.

It's an ugly trend that he believes the offense must improve.

"We're just not making the plays," he said. "I think we've got a mentally tough team. To be down 24 points at Georgia Tech takes a lot of mental focus to come back…we have to make more plays."

With lots of criticism being hurled in the direction of offensive coordinator Billy Napier, Spiller doesn't see much need for drastic changes to the offense.

"We have to execute. That's all on the players. The coaches are there to coach and the players are there to run the plays," he said.


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