By Keith McGonigle.
The Under Armour Bowl game gave Clemson fans their first opportunity to see RB Mike Bellamy, the Florida native that many believe can be the next C.J. Spiller.
The first thing that stood out was that both teams were running strictly out of the shotgun and were going to be passing a good amount of the time. This was good and bad, we were able to see how Bellamy could do in a spread type offense (which the Tigers have a good chance of running next year), but the bad news is Bellamy had to get used to a completely new system (he is used to playing with the quarterback under center).
Bellamy did not start the game and did not get action until about the third offensive series. He struggled at first when they tried to run him up the middle right at the Red teams stacked defensive line. He carried the ball a few times only picking up 2-3 yards a carry. On his fourth carry he fumbled the ball and it looked like the start of a tough day.
After the fumble, however, Bellamy turned it on. They started to get the ball to him in space on pitch plays and it really paid off he ripped of a few good runs showing unbelievable speed and quickness to the outside. He did a great job of making positive gains out of plays that should have gone for a loss. The highlight of the night, and a play that showed all of Bellamy’s talents in one play, was on a pitch play to the left. The defense had finally figured the play out and over pursued. Seeing nothing there Bellamy showed great vision and reversed and went all the way back to the right side using his great speed, he ended the 14+ yard run by putting his shoulder into the defender and gaining an extra yard.
Everyone knows about his amazing speed but what really stood out was his willingness to be physical. On a few runs he deliberately put his shoulder down and initiated contact in order to reach the first down or gain a few extra yards. Also, what was great to see is that the 5’11” 176 lbs. back was willing to block. On a few occasions he took on 6’6” 247 lbs. defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, one block on a quarterback draw helped them convert a big forth down. Bellamy ended the day with 13 carries for 55 yards.
One thing that Bellamy will have to work on at the next level is getting bigger. He does not have the same muscle mass that CJ Spiller possessed out of high school and he will have to bulk up to avoid injury. Another thing that was evident was that once he gets the ball he goes full speed up the field right away, which is great because there is nothing worse than a running back who dances in the backfield, but he lost his balance on a few cuts because of it and a little more patience will help the offensive line set up blocks for him.
Overall, I really hope we get to see Bellamy in a Tiger uniform. Being able to build an offense around a talent like Bellamy and having him in the return game would be a lot of fun to watch and would help the Tigers win a lot of games.
Other Notes from the game:
LB Stephone Anthony had a couple of tackles for loss and big hits and would be exactly what the Tigers need in their linebacking core.