After Wayne Gallman suffered an injury early in the first quarter of Clemson’s game against N.C. State on Saturday that sidelined him for the rest of the contest, all of Clemson’s backup running backs played — with the exception of freshman Tavien Feaster.
That’s in part because, right now, Feaster appears to be the fifth running back on Clemson’s depth chart.
“We trust him enough as the fifth guy,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said on Tuesday. “That would have been the situation to go in there.”
Redshirt sophomore C.J. Fuller, redshirt sophomore Adam Choice and redshirt junior Tyshon Dye all got in. Feaster’s number was close to being called, but the coaches decided to hold him out.
Feaster has played this season in blowout games against S.C. State and Boston College, when he received a combined 16 carries for 139 yards (8.7 average) and two touchdowns, including a 45-yard score at Boston College.
Clemson was comfortable deploying Feaster when the games weren’t close. But in tight games like Saturday’s, Clemson chose to rely on the backs that have the experience Feaster doesn’t.
“That’s not a time to break a guy out,” Scott said. “Last week against Boston College we’re up by a bunch, so we gave guys opportunities to go out and make plays, and they did that. That’s a different situation than when the game’s on the line every single play.”
Fuller led Clemson with 16 carries for 56 yards. Scott said Fuller’s success also played a part in the decision to keep Feaster on the sideline.
“I think if C.J. maybe didn’t do as well, then there would have been opportunities for Feaster to go in,” Scott said.
Feaster seems to be at the bottom of Clemson’s pecking order at running back right now, but that pecking order is fluid, and he will continue to have a chance to work his way up.
“Now that these other guys have had some opportunities, it could change what order they go in the next game,” Scott said. “It’s just something that each week, the coaches have to make those decisions.”
“But we like Tavien,” Scott added. “He’s going to be a great player, there’s no doubt about it. And when the times present themselves for him to get opportunities, then he’ll get those opportunities.”