Tigers running into physical Eagles defense
CLEMSON -- Coming off a performance that included two long Andre Ellington touchdown runs and 236 rushing yards against Georgia Tech, the Clemson ground game will be tested at Boston College on Saturday.
The Eagles rank fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rush defense, allowing 2.6 yards per carry and 83 yards per game. The numbers are not artificially high because of gaudy sack totals as Boston College is 59th in sacks.
Clemson tackle says playing Boston College is different than facing other ACC opponents, as the Eagles trade speed for strength and size. BC's defensive tackles average 300 pounds and its linebacker corps averages out to 242 pounds per player.
"They definitely bring a physical aspect to the game," Walker said. "When you play teams like Florida State you expect to get speed rushers; (Boston College) has a more physical (style)."
BC linebacker 's comeback from cancer is a well-documented story. Walker isn't sure if the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year is back to his former elite level, but Herzlich's current level is remarkable enough as he is fifth on the team with 29 tackles and has two interceptions after missing last season while battling a rare form of bone cancer.
Walker said the 6-4, 257-pound outside linebacker would probably play defensive end in Clemson's scheme. Walker played against Herzlich as a freshman in 2008.
"He just got after it like any good defensive player," Walker said. "He just did a great job of swarming to the ball. He is just a smart player."
While Herzlich is the inspirational story of the Boston College team, fellow linebacker Luke Kuechly might be its best player, leading the Eagles in tackles (97) and second in tackles for loss (8).
Ellington earns honor
Ellington was named the ACC's offensive back of the week Monday after rushing for a career-best 166 yards against Georgia Tech. Ellington is third in the ACC in rushing (642 yards) behind Boston College's Montel Harris (694 yards) and Miami's Damien Berry (648 yards).
Sophomore safety Jonathan Meeks said it was hard to complain about not seeing much action early in the year as he was stuck behind an All-American in DeAndre McDaniel and a freshman All-American in Rashard Hall.
But Meeks has seen his snaps increase three straight weeks, including his first start Saturday against Georgia Tech. Hall, whose playing time has decreased the last three weeks, is listed as a co-starter on the depth chart with Meeks for the Boston College game.
What has been the key for the highly touted, 6-1, 205-pound Meeks, who arrived on campus as the 18th-ranked prep school player in the country last season?
"Just not making so many mistakes in practice, big mistakes, leaving guys uncovered," Meeks said. "The coaches began to trust me. I've played faster at practice with more confidence."
In Meeks' first start he totaled seven tackles, defended two passes and delivered.
A pair needing a spare
Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier lamented the lack of a third running back following the Georgia Tech win. Beyond Ellington and Jamie Harper, there is no proven running back depth.
"I'd like to have a third back," Napier said. "We'd be even more dangerous."
Redshirt freshman Roderick McDowell received glowing reviews in the offseason, but has just 17 carries for 90 yards this season.
The gametime and network for Clemson's Nov. 6 home game against N.C. State will not be announced until Sunday.