Clemson Football: Why Wayne Gallman Will Be Tigers' X-Factor in 2014

Bryan Manning@bdmanning4Featured ColumnistJune 30, 2014

Freshman running back Wayne Gallman
Freshman running back Wayne Gallman247Sports

The Clemson Tigers ranked No. 10 in total offense in 2013. Much of that was because of a passing offense that averaged 333 yards per game and ranked No. 9 overall.

On the ground, the Tigers weren't quite as successful. Clemson finished No. 56 in rushing offense and last year's top two rushers on the team are now gone.

No problem, Clemson fans, the Tigers should be a much better rushing team in 2014. Freshman Wayne Gallman will team with senior D.J. Howard and a pair of juniors in C.J. Davidson and Zac Brooks.

Junior Zac Brooks
Junior Zac BrooksBrett Carlsen/Getty Images

With that said, Gallman will be Clemson's X-factor on offense as the Tigers look to break in a first-time starter at quarterback.

In 2013, Howard, Davidson and Brooks combined to rush for 614 yards, while Gallman redshirted.

The Post and Courier's Gene Sapakoff notes that Gallman has impressed head coach Dabo Swinney and the Associated Press indicates he led the team in rushing in the team's annual spring game.

According to's Andrea Adelson, offensive coordinator Chad Morris hopes that he has the running back stable that will take his offense to the next level.

Gallman, along with Davidson, bring speed to the table. However, Davidson is more one-dimensional than Gallman.

At 6'1", 205 pounds, Gallman has excellent size and can run between the tackles or bounce it outside and go the distance at any time. That's something the Tigers lacked from the running back position in 2013.

For a player blessed with outstanding speed, Gallman is also a very physical runner.

This spring, Morris couldn't hide his enthusiasm regarding Gallman, telling Adelson that the running back is "probably as dynamic and electric a back as I've seen. He can turn speed to power so fast. There's a lot of great things going on with our backs."

The Tigers' current depth chart has Howard and Brooks ahead of Gallman and Davidson. However, the Tigers head to Athens, Georgia, on Aug. 30 to face a Bullogs defense loaded with talent and eight returning starters.

Clemson will need a playmaker—or two—in the backfield, and Gallman is that guy.

Howard has been injury-prone throughout his career and Brooks has never topped 246 yards in a season.

Clemson, with Cole Stoudt making his first career start at quarterback, will need plenty of speed and versatility on the field to get through the first month of the season when the Tigers not only face Georgia, but defending national champion Florida State, too.  

Gallman can provide that in bunches.

The biggest question regarding Gallman is how he will fare in pass protection. Young running backs generally struggle in this area, and Stoudtwhile a pretty good athleteisn't quite as nimble as former quarterback Tajh Boyd.

If Gallman wants to take the starting running back job, he must succeed in protecting the passer.

Clemson will most certainly use a running-back-by-committee approach early in the season. Talent usually wins out, though, and Gallman is the most talented runner Clemson has. He will remind some fans of former Tiger star C.J. Spiller.

For the first time in his seven-year tenure as head coach, Swinney will look for his defense to lead the team. However, at the end of the day, offense always wins for Clemson.

Gallman is Clemson's next offensive star.