Clemson Preview 2006 Further Analysis
Posted Jul 31, 2006

Clemson Tigers Preview 2006 - Clemson Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid – If you’re a defensive player in the ACC, you’ve got to just hate seeing James Davis in the backfield.  #1 in the shotgun.  He’s handed the ball and gets a couple of blocks in front of him.  All of a sudden, 215 pounds of angry Tiger running back is headed your way somewhere on the field.  So, do you try to come up and lay some wood on him and risk the embarrassment of being swatted away like a fly?  Or, do you come up and grab some shoelaces and risk being exposed for being a Nancy-boy?  Tough choice, huh?  Well, okay, so maybe it’s not so drastic, but what is now well-known around the ACC is that Davis is quickly becoming a force in this league.  The true sophomore from the ATL took over as the #1 running back, leading Clemson with 879 yards, missing 1,000 only because he sat out the Temple game.  Davis and Reggie Merriweather form the best 1-2 punch in the ACC, and the return of both backs will give offensive coordinator Rob Spence the luxury of running the ball, literally, as much as he’d like, which helps when you lose a QB like Charlie Whitehurst.  Davis combines power, speed and vision into one heck of an explosive package.  He had four hundred yard ball games and was the only running back all year to go for 100 yards+ on Colorado, which he did in the Champs Bowl where he piled up 150 on 28 carries.  The last two games of the season were when Davis really took his game to another level, and that should lay the groundwork for at least 1,300 yards this season and first team All-ACC honors.  And, perhaps, if he’s good enough, he may lead his Tigers on a little trip to Jacksonville in early December.

2nd and Seven – The Dean of Kickers – Okay, there’s really only one way that you’re ever going to get any love as a kicker on these pages and that’s, well, there’s two.  One, you knock guys out on the kickoff team.  Uh, what’s the other?  You’re the most clutch kicker in the nation.  Ding!  That’s got to be Clemson’s Jad Dean.  His first victim was Texas A&M, who saw him kick a school record six field goals, including the game winner, and they weren’t the only ones.  Dean finished the season 24 of 31 (two of which were blocked) and led the ACC in scoring.  Sure, the Clemson faithful would like to see him kicking the one pointers this year, instead of the triples.  But, when the game is on the line, there’s no other kicker in the nation that Clemson fans would want on the field other than Dean.

3rd and Three – Five Fingers Acting as a Fist – There are two types of coaches – those who worry about everything and those who have their entire offensive line coming back for another year.  Alright, maybe there are some levels of in-between, but the point is that Tommy Bowden and Spence have to be ecstatic to have all five offensive line starters back for 2006.  As you watched Clemson last year, you could see progress as the Tigers quintet learned Rob Spence’s balanced, power attack.  Those five starters, Barry Richardson, Roman Fry, Dustin Fry, Nathan Bennett and Marion Dukes, will make up one of the best offensive lines in the nation and they could pave the way for Davis and Merriweather to both go over 1,000, if all parties stay healthy this year.

4th and One – Living on the Edge – The Clemson defense has a few holes this year.  Tye Hill is running fast for the NFL and should have a new home on Saturday.  Charles Bennett is out of eligibility, as is former Ed White star Jamaal Fudge.  But, the man that created the most havoc for opposing offenses will return this year – Gaines Adams.  The fact that his name is Gaines is highly ironic for ACC offenses as they tend to lose yardage when Adams turns the corner.  At 6’5” and 265, he has prototypical 4-3 NFL rush end written all over him.  He’s a blur off the edge, but he also is strong at the point of attack against the run.  Without Bennett on the opposite side, he’ll see more doubles and chips this season, but that should be good practice for when he takes his game to the next level.  But, at this level, he should keep the Clemson defense in good stead, even if he is living on the edge.