Run, Woody, run!
Of all the offensive philosophies and schemes Clemson has tried out through the years - from Frank Howard's four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust, to Danny Ford complementing his defensive focus by playing for field position and then striking opportunistically, to Rich Rodriguez making up new plays on the fly over a lunch conversation, sketching them on napkin, and then taking them to practice - my favorite is the most simple and least structured of them all.
Drop Woodrow Dantzler back in the shotgun, find a seam, and then run!
Turned loose to find his own way, Dantzler dazzled.
In 2001, he became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1000 yards in a season.
There was no question of 'the chicken or the egg.' The run came first, and Dantzler's arm was good enough to make the offense hum.
College football waited most of a decade to see the formula come to full bloom - this time to perfection, as Cam Newton rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and passed for more 2,800 while leading Auburn to its unbeaten, national championship 2010 season.
As Clemson prepares to embark on its 2012 football quest, the connections between Woody Dantzler, Cam Newton and Tajh Boyd form an intriguing triangle.
The 2012 Tigers need a little of what Dantzler gave the 2001 Tigers. And a little might go a long way toward carrying Boyd, and Clemson, to a Newton-like season.
Boyd, of course, is neither Dantzler nor Newton, nor does he need to be. He was plenty good last season, rewriting Clemson's passing records while executing Chad Morris' offense - a derivative of the Gus Malzahn offense in which Newton excelled two years ago.
There were a couple of things missing during the Tigers' first year under Morris, however - a dependable, short-yardage running game, and the defense-paralyzing, every-down threat of a quarterback not only able, but willing, to turn almost any play into a 20-yard run.
For Morris' offense to soar, the quarterback keeper isn't just icing on the cake - it's foundational.
A year ago, Boyd carried the football 142 times for 218 yards - numbers obviously skewed by sacks and short-yardage keepers, but telling nonetheless.
This year, the Tigers need more: more carries, more yardage, more big-play, rushing-game impact from the quarterback position.
It starts with just a bit of a 'run, Woody, run,' frame of mind.
Clemson doesn't need for Boyd to rush for 1,500, or even 1,000 yards. But it does need to make a statement early that the quarterback is a true triple threat - to execute the offense and put the ball in the playmakers' hands, to throw the ball down the field with both discretion and accuracy, and to become a playmaker himself in the rushing game.
A year ago, wisdom dictated caution.
The Tigers went into the season with a new offense led by a sophomore quarterback who'd never started a game, backed by two first-year freshmen.
This time around, the position is in better shape. Cole Stoudt performed capably last season in a back-up role, and was pushed for his job during preseason camp by highly-regarded Chad Kelly - who was recruited specifically by Morris to run his offense - and Morgan Roberts.
An injury to Boyd would be a blow.
But for a team with so many weapons, it's worth the risk to turn Boyd loose, let him play, and see how far he can run with this promising 2012 season.