Clemson RB Spiller Expects Tigers to Stay Focused

BY foxsports • October 28, 2009

By PETE IACOBELLI, AP

CLEMSON, S.C. -- C.J. Spiller has been part of many big Clemson wins. He's also endured several Tiger fades following critical victories.

Spiller, Clemson's star senior, promises things will be different this time.

"We can't be satisfied with where we are right now," Spiller said Tuesday.

Spiller was a freshman in 2006 when the Tigers won an ACC showdown with Georgia Tech. Who could forget Spiller's ankle-breaking stop-and-go move on a 50-yard TD catch to elude two defenders and lift the Tigers to 7-1 and No. 10 in the country? They lost four of their final five the rest of the way.

A season later, Clemson began 4-0 and rose to No. 13, then lost its next two games and fell from the rankings.

Last fall, the Tigers had seemingly recovered from an opening-week loss to Alabama with three straight wins before back-to-back defeats to Maryland and Wake Forest led to coach Tommy Bowden's departure.

Clemson (4-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) is standing tall again after its first win over a top 10 team in three years, a 40-37 overtime thriller at then-No. 8 Miami last Saturday. The team is in the driver's seat of the ACC's Atlantic Division with league games left against Florida State, North Carolina State and Virginia -- a combined 3-7 in conference play.

"There's still a whole lot of football left," Spiller cautioned.

The Miami victory broke an eight-game losing streak against ranked opponents. Now, coach Dabo Swinney wants his team focused clearly on its next foe, Coastal Carolina of the Football Championship Subdivision.

"We lose this game, nobody's talking about how good we looked at Miami," Swinney said. "They'll be 'For Sale' signs in my yard."

There almost were a few weeks ago after the Tigers' 24-21 loss at Maryland.

Swinney preached patience, and that appears to have paid off the last two games with Clemson's most complete performances of the year.

The offense scored 73 points in losing two of its first three ACC contests. It has put up 78 in the wins over Wake Forest and Miami.

Spiller has been a big part of that. He had touchdowns on a 90-yard kickoff return -- his third such score this year -- and a 56-yard reception. His 310 all-purpose yards set a Clemson record.

The defense leads the ACC, allowing 273.4 yards a game. It got just enough pressure to rattle Miami quarterback Jacory Harris into three interceptions, including one that DeAndre McDaniel brought back for a touchdown.

Still, Swinney found plenty of mistakes to keep the players in line this week on a campus giddy about the team's chances.

"We have a lot of faith in each other and we know how each other can play," tight end Michael Palmer said. "We're just going to keep focusing, keep working with each other."

"That's the mark," Palmer said, "of a true team."


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