Running Game Comes to Life

All week, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said that three running backs would share the duties of carrying the ball. He lived up to his word.

Reggie Merriweather, Yusef Kelly and Kyle Browning each nearly the same amount of rushes, which resulted in one of the more productive performances in the Bowden era.

By using the three-headed monster, the Tigers were much more successful running the ball and netted 199 yards on 30 carries. But it was two runs in particular that folks will be talking about for a long time.

The first came 8:19 left in the fourth quarter when Merriweather went untouched up the middle for a 62-yard touchdown run. It was the longest run for the Tigers under Bowden.

He finished the game with eight carries for 90 yards.

"It felt great to contribute tonight, but not getting the win really hurts," Merriweather said. "During the week, the coaches told me that I would get an opportunity and I did. I just ran as hard as I could every time I was on the field. I hope this will give the coaches confidence in me."

That would have been enough to please most fans, as well as the coaching staff, especially after the horrid rushing performance last week, but there was more to come.

On Clemson's very next possession, Browning did almost the exact same thing as Merriweather, as he, too, took a handoff and streaked up the middle untouched, before bouncing it to the outside and sprinting for a 54-yard touchdown run with 3:18 left to play.

That run gave the Tigers a 24-14 lead and it seemed to secure the victory, but that obviously wasn't the case.

Browning finished with five carries for 80 yards.

"Kyle and Reggie broke through for some long ones," Bowden said. "The running game picked up, but we didn't play smart and got a celebration penalty for it that gave them 30 yards and points with seconds that might not have been on the clock."

Nonetheless, the emergence of the running game has to give some positive thoughts to the Clemson coaching staff and fans.

Last week, the Tigers were led by Kelly, who had 19 carries for 57 yards. And as a team last week, Clemson averaged 2.4 yards per carry.

This week, Kelly, who may see much less playing time next week against Texas A&M, had nine carries for 28 yards. As a team against Georgia Tech, the Tigers averaged over six yards a carry.

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