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Tigers feed Gallman, the running game

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — As he came out for the postgame interview following Saturday’s 35-13 victory over Wake Forest, which clinched a spot in next month’s ACC Championship Game, Wayne Gallman was carrying a big box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts in his hand. The Clemson running back was even nice enough to offer the media some.

But no one accepted the offer because no one deserved to be fed more than Gallman. All year long the junior has remained quiet and patient while others around him continuously put up big numbers in the Tigers’ offense. After rushing for more than 1,500 yards a year ago, Gallman came into Saturday’s game at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with just 670 yards.

Some, like ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, have suggested Gallman is the most underutilized running back in college football. However, it was obvious from the game’s first possession, No. 4 Clemson was going to feed its star running back the football, and boy did he feast.

On Clemson’s first possession, Gallman opened things up with a six-yard run off right tackle. Three plays later, with Clemson facing a fourth-and-one from the Wake 42-yard line, he took a handoff up the middle, made Wake safety DeAndre’ Delaney miss and then was off to the race for the game’s first touchdown.

“It was just easy. I broke the hole, charged to the right and bam! That was pretty much it,” Gallman said.

Gallman and the Clemson offensive line made it look easy all night. He finished with a season-high 161 yards on 22 carries and scored two touchdowns, while the running game as a whole ran for a season-high 254 yards.

It was a much different game than a week ago when the Tigers (10-1, 7-1 ACC) struggled to run the football in a loss to Pitt.

“The hardest thing to do about that game was really just getting over it and accepting it, knowing we can come back over the next couple of games and do what we need to do,” Gallman said.

Last week, Clemson rushed for 50 yards, but on Saturday, Gallman rushed for 48 by himself on the first possession.

“It was huge. A big run like that on the opening drive, fourth-and-one, when they have a loaded box and technically they had another hat and he makes a guy miss and spits it for a long one, that was big,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “It was really good for his confidence and our confidence overall. It really gave us the spark that we needed, especially from a run-game standpoint.”

It also got Deshaun Watson involved in the running game. The Clemson quarterback is the Tigers’ second-leading rusher, but last week Pitt took that away and held the Heisman Trophy Candidate to eight rushing yards on five carries.

However, against Wake Forest, Watson ran for 47 yards on seven carries, while scoring on touchdown runs of one and two yards. He also had a 23-yard run.

“Anytime Deshaun can give us an extra hat, it gives us an advantage,” Elliott said. “They started giving us some things and we felt like we could get him involved and he made the right reads and pulled some and then he had great blocking on the perimeter, too, to extend some of those long runs.”

Despite putting up video game numbers against Pittsburgh the week before when he threw for 580 yards on 52 of 70 pass attempts, Watson said what the Tigers did in the Wake Forest game, where they threw for 202 yards and ran for 254, is what they really want to each week.

“The O-line told us this week they wanted to run the ball and prove that we can be balanced and do both to make sure the defense is having to watch both sides. It was good to see that and it will help us moving forward,” the Clemson quarterback said. “It is always good to make sure the defense is off balance and they have to respect both.”

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