Clemson's "stallion" package lines tailbacks behind center Print
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Thursday, 06 September 2007 12:49
NCAAF Headline News

 CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -Clemson star runner James Davis loves it. So does his backfield partner, C.J. Spiller. Clemson coach Tommy Bowden just hopes the ``stallion'' package is enough to give opponents fits - and bring a new dimension to the 25th-ranked Tigers' powerful running game.
Taking a page from Arkansas' playbook, the scheme calls for Davis or Spiller to line up behind the center for a direct snap. It was unveiled in Monday night's 24-18 win over Florida State.
``We worked hard on it and I thought they made some pretty good decisions,'' Bowden said.
Not that it was easy for the coach to watch. Bowden said he had some nerves about how his backs would handle the shotgun snap because ``their eyes are looking downfield.''
There were no mistakes, though, as Davis and Spiller took two snaps apiece.
After faking a handoff to Spiller, Davis ran for 9 and 6 yards the times he lined up at quarterback. Davis' second time was called back because of a holding penalty.
Spiller handed off to his partner for a 1-yard gain. Spiller's other snap was marred by a delay of game penalty.
The team had hoped to use the formation more often, but Spiller dealt with leg cramps in the second half.
``I'm sure we'll start branching off that,'' Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper said. ``We were happy with the way it went.''
The Tigers' read-option wrinkle looks like the ``Wildcat'' formation the Razorbacks and Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden used to great success last season.
The plan, Bowden says, is to have opponents guessing who'll get the ball and where they'll go.
Asked when Spiller or Davis will throw the ball - as McFadden often did for Arkansas - Bowden gave a cagey smile, ``Soon,'' he said. ``Soon.''
Don't count it out.
The scheme comes from Bowden and the offensive coaches wanting to get both backfield playmakers on field at the same time. A year ago, Davis and Spiller rotated in every couple of series.
That ``fresh legs'' approach worked to a point. Davis finished with 1,187 yards rushing and 17 TDs. Spiller added 938 yards and 10 touchdowns.
But the attack's effectiveness faded down the stretch as opponents concentrated on whoever was in the backfield and dared the Tigers to complete passes, which they often could not do.
Then came January when word leaked out that an unhappy Spiller considered transfering to new national champ Florida, closer to his Lake Bulter, Fla., home and his young daughter.
Spiller stayed put, deciding his future was with the Tigers. With ``stallion,'' Clemson's coaches will showcase even more of Spiller's electrifying speed and cutback ability.
``We felt like at the end of the year, we needed to get those guys both on the field,'' Bowden said.
Davis and Spiller lined up together often Monday night, combining for 150 yards rushing and Davis' 29-yard TD run.
Davis thought Florida State was confused with the formation, and thinks others will too. ``This is going to let me and C.J. make a lot of big plays,'' Davis said.
Spiller was recruited by Southern California, which told him he'd be a perfect replacement for the Trojans former do-everything Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. Bowden expects to utilize more of Spiller's versatility this fall.
``It's something I look forward to,'' Spiller said.
Even though defenses see who's behind the center, there's typically a few moments of adjustment.
``It is a little more complex than, 'OK, he's running the ball,''' Bowden said. ``Because he might not. ... You can have a little bit of misdirection. It's a 100 percent run, but where you're going to run, there's still some doubt and indecision.''
If it's someone who can throw a little bit, too, that adds to the mystery, Bowden said. But, the coach said, ``If we throw it, we won't throw it very far.''
If they do throw, Harper wants hopes to be in on it. The quarterback generally shuffled to the outside, looking for a way not get hurt. He says he has some blocking assignments in ``stallion'' and would love to catch a pass from Davis or Spiller.
``I think it'd be awesome,'' Harper said.

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