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Ellington by the numbers

Posted by cuorange on January 7, 2010

Andre Ellington

No one player is going to replace all that C.J. Spiller was for the 2009 Clemson Tiger football team.  Spiller accounted for 2,680 total yards, returned 4 kickoffs for touchdowns and was the only player in FBS to score in every game.  Perhaps Spiller’s greatest asset though was his leadership and will to win.  More than once this past year I found myself saying, “#28 won’t let us lose”.

The Tigers running back cupboard is not bare without Spiller.  Jamie Harper and André Ellington have each had their moments while Rod McDowell redshirted and will be ready for the 2010 season.
Ellington in particular showed “flashes” of Spiller-esque running ability averaging 7.2 yards per carry on 68 carries.  With this in mind I decided to take a closer look at Ellington’s numbers and see how the stack up against Spiller’s.

Player Rush YPC 0 or Neg FD/FD% TD/TD% 10+/10+% 20+/20+% 30+/30+%
Spiller  216  5.6 39/18.1%   46/21.3%  12/5.6%  31/14.4% 12/5.6%  10/4.6% 
Ellington   68    7.2  7/10.3%  19/27.9    4/5.9%    13/9.1%   5/7.4%   5/7.4% 

Ellington averaged more yards per carry, had less negative or 0 yard plays, a higher percentage of first downs, touchdowns, 10+, 20+ and 30+ gains per carry.  Amazing really when you think about it.  Ellington had better averages in every category.
Two things that make Spiller the all around threat he is:  The Homerun play and receiving.  But even the “homerun” plays are a bit deceiving:  Spiller had 3 rushing touchdowns of 36 yards or more, but two of them came against Georgia Tech in the ACC title game.  Ellington’s lone homerun run was a 55 yard touchdown against Coastal Carolina.
While Ellington had a similar number of receptions relative to rushing attempts as Spiller (i.e. about 30% of the number of rushes) he only averaged 5.0 yards per reception, while Spiller averaged 14.0 yards per reception and Spiller had 4 receiving touchdowns while Ellington had none.
While I wouldn’t expect Ellington to average 14 yards per reception (Spiller in space is what makes Spiller Spiller), this number needs to be in the 8 to 9 yard range.  This is definitely something that Ellington needs to work on as we all remember the drop in round 1 against Georgia Tech.
This is not meant to say that Ellington can replace Spiller.  No one can replace Spiller, but I believe Ellington can replace part of what Spiller brought to the table – the running back part.  Whether he can become the receiver Spiller was is to be determined and who replaces Spiller on special teams and as a leader could be just as an important piece of the puzzle for the 2010 Tigers.


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