Clemson running back Wayne Gallman made it a goal before the season to top the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive year.
While he hasn’t accomplished the feat as quickly as he would have liked, he can reach the milestone in the ACC title game by rushing for at least 57 yards Saturday against Virginia Tech.
“It was a challenge of mine, a big goal of mine coming into this year,” he said. “Personally, I think I should’ve gotten it a long time ago, but you know how things work out… I’m happy with the way things are.”
Gallman has become a bigger part of the offense as the season has progressed. He had double-digit carries three times in Clemson’s first seven games, but has carried the ball at least 10 times each of the past five weeks, and has 18 carries or more in four of those five games.
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The junior said he feels fresh as the Tigers prepare to play their biggest games.
“Last year at this time I had that ankle injury, but I feel better this year,” he said.
Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware believes the Tigers made a statement with their 56-7 win over South Carolina last Saturday.
Clemson has now won three consecutive games in the series after USC had five wins in a row over the Tigers.
“The 2014 team got tired of that. The 2015 team continued to get tired of it, and I think the 2016 team completely shut it down,” Boulware said of the Gamecocks’ five straight wins in the series. “We’re not even worried about that anymore. We’re changing that label.”
ROUNDING INTO SHAPE
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson believes he’s improved as a player, and the Tigers’ offense has gotten better as the season has gone along.
He added it’s taken some time for all of the pieces to gel. The majority of Clemson’s offense returned from 2015, but the Tigers did add receiver Mike Williams back into the mix after his missed most of last season with a neck injury.
Clemson also had to replace a couple of starters on the offensive line.
“It’s not like the NFL where you have the same guys for 10 years. It’s a different group each and every year,” Watson said. “We’ve got freshmen coming in and guys that redshirted and injured guys that missed a year. It’s a different mix. It takes time. But this is the time you should want to peak and play your best football. It’s good to progress and continue to try to get better.”
ACC title game
Who: Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
When: 8 p.m., Saturday
Where: Orlando, Fla.
Line: Clemson by 10 1/2