Lyn-J Dixon hasn’t been heavily involved in Clemson’s running game through the first two games of this season. The senior running back had only four carries for 27 yards in the Tigers’ 49-3 win over South Carolina State on Saturday after rushing just one time for 10 yards in the season-opening 10-3 loss to Georgia on Sept. 4.
Following the SC State game, head coach Dabo Swinney was asked what Dixon needs to do to be a bigger part of the offense going forward.
“He just needs to grow up,” Swinney said. “It’s that simple. He needs to be a team player. He’s a good player. Obviously he’s very talented and we’ve seen that, but we need him to stay out of (running backs coach C.J.) Spiller’s doghouse.”
On Monday, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott addressed the Dixon situation while speaking to the media.
Elliott, who served as Dixon’s running backs coach the last three years before transitioning to his new role as the tight ends coach this year, said it is simply a matter of Dixon getting on the same page with his first-year running backs coach Spiller.
“I have (had conversations with Dixon) because I’ve been a part of his life,” Elliott said. “But at the same time, too, C.J. has to establish the culture in that room. Really the biggest thing is just accountability and communication between the two. I remember when I first came in (as Clemson’s running backs coach in 2011), I had Mike Bellamy, I had Demont Buice, (Andre) Ellington was an older guy, I had Hot Rod (Roderick McDowell), and I had to establish the dominant role in that room. Obviously, Ellington had been here for a while, and not saying that we were butting heads, but we had to get on the same page. He had to understand what my coaching style is, and that’s what you’re going through there.
“Obviously, Lyn-J has been used to me, and now he’s just getting used to Spiller. But y’all know Spiller, y’all know the character that he has and how he’s going to establish the hierarchy in that room. And any of us that are in a situation where you’ve got a chain of command, you’ve got to respect the chain of command and do things according to how the person that’s leading the room sets it. So, it’s really more accountability and communication between the two. They’re working through it. But you know our program, too. That’s what the foundation of our program is – accountability.”
Dixon entered 2021 with 1,372 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 208 career attempts and 183 yards on 18 catches over 38 games. The Butler, Ga., native came into his fourth season ranked second in school history in yards per carry (6.60) behind Clemson legend and former teammate Travis Etienne.
“There’s no question about the type of player that Lyn-J is,” Elliott said. “Lyn-J’s made a bunch of plays for us in this program. The biggest thing is just getting on the same page with his coach and the things that his coach is asking him to do. And it’s not necessarily football stuff, it’s the total package. And I think that’s been illustrated in our program, that everything matters if you’re going to be the lead guy and the first guy that runs out.”
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