By Ashley Denny.
CHARLOTTE, NC- With backup running back Mike Bellamy out of Saturday’s game after being suspended for violating team rules, it was clear to starting running back Andre Ellington that he had to step up and pick up the slack. And boy did he ever.
Ellington ended Clemson’s 38-10 domination of Virginia Tech with 20 carries for 133 yards. Several Clemson and ACC records were broken or tied on Saturday and Ellington also along with having a career day broke the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the first time in his college career.
“We have confidence playing against anyone,” Ellington said after the game. “The fact that we did beat Virginia Tech earlier this season mattered because it showed us that we are capable of beating them in any situation.”
Ellington knew coming into the game that he and his teammates were confident in themselves and their coaching staff, which according to him was all it took to win the game.
“We knew in the back of our minds that Virginia Tech was a great team and that they weren’t going to give up their title without a fight,” Ellington said.
Coming off three losses in the past four weeks, Ellington said that the team prepared the same way for the ACC Championship game as they did during the past few weeks.
“We continue to do what we do,” Ellington said. “We corrected some things, a few errors that we had here and there that made us lose some of those games, we corrected those during the week and were able to come out and win the game.”
The Tigers came out early and scored on the 24 yard pass from Tajh Boyd to Dwayne Allen, which was something everyone knew would have to happen in order for the Tigers to win the game. Did Ellington see the Tiger team from the beginning of the season come back tonight?
“We came out and once we got that score we were back to having fun like we did in the past,” Ellington said. “We were able to run the ball, and when you’re able to run the ball you can open up the playbook. The guys up front took ownership of their jobs and felt like they were the best offensive line in the country tonight.”
When the Tigers played the Hokies in Blacksburg earlier this season, Dabo and company beat Virginia Tech by 20 points, tonight they pounded the Hokies beating them by 28, is it just a good match up for the Tigers?
“It’s all about us, they’re a great team,” Ellington said. “But it’s all about us, we’ve got to go out there and play Clemson football.”
The fans showed up and showed out tonight in Charlotte, how big of a factor was that for Andre and the rest of the team?
“Just looking up in the crowd all I saw was orange,” Ellington said. “I didn’t really see their maroon color, it’s like a home game for us, and we enjoyed every minute of it.”
The Tigers scored 21 points in 4:21 in the third quarter, which only serves as another indicator of the high speed offense ran by Chad Morris and the Tigers and how effective it is.
“It’s a big help, just looking over at those guys they were pretty tired,” Ellington said. “We felt like we were getting more in shape as the game went on.”
This is the first time since 1991 that the Tigers have won the ACC Championship and from the way the team and Ellington played tonight it’s safe to say they’re not done yet.