Clemson RB group energized, playing with something to prove
|Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 8:00 AM- -|
Heading into fall camp this August, it seemed as if the running backs room was as deep for the Clemson football team as it had ever been under head coach Dabo Swinney. It also seemed that senior running back Lyn-J Dixon was the guy to replace Travis Etienne after being selected in the first round of the NFL draft last April.
Two weeks into the season, the majority of the carries have been split between true freshman Will Shipley and sophomore Kobe Pace. Pace rushed the ball seven times against South Carolina State last weekend for 68 yards and his first collegiate touchdown against the Bulldogs. His 75 yards on the season matches his entire season during 2020 and the Georgia native said he is taking advantage of the chances he is given.
“I learned to take advantage of every advantage and every opportunity,” Pace said when asked what he learned from sitting behind Etienne and the other running backs last year. “Learning to perfect my craft and watching him (Etienne) gave me so many things to learn from, like drills and watching film.”
Pace, who was listed as a co-starter on this week's depth chart, also told the media on Monday that he feels good at where he is at so far this season and is still working on perfecting his craft.
“Things are going good,” said Pace. “I’m just here to keep working and perfecting my craft and helping out the team as much as I can and wherever I can.”
The Tigers rushed the ball for over 240 yards against SC State last weekend, a welcome stat after only gaining two yards on the ground the previous week against Georgia. Pace said that was a good first step back in the direction of calling themselves the best offense in the nation.
“Just to prove we are a good running back room,” Pace said of the mentality of the running backs going into last weekend. “We call ourselves the best offense in the nation, so just to go out and prove that every weekend, I think that’s what drives us to keep going.”
It’s no secret that the Clemson running backs room is loaded with talent as well this season. Dixon has been a great second back after Etienne the last few seasons. Add in Pace and the five-star Shipley all being coached by former Tiger legend C.J. Spiller, and the room is packed with talent and speed and Pace said they all complement each other.
“Everybody has their differences and we all bring something different to the table,” Pace said. “I feel like we all help out the room in many different ways. I feel like we can all do the same thing. I don’t think there's anybody that can’t go out there on third down and get the first down, and we can all go out there and get done whatever needs to be done.”
Pace and Shipley both found the endzone for the first time on Saturday in their college careers. The sophomore said they both feed off of each other and Shipley’s running style keeps the whole room going.
“We feed off each other's energy,” said Pace. “When one person is going, we all go. I feel like with him (Shipley) running a certain way, it affects all of us and with everybody in the room.”
Pace and the Clemson rushing attack will have another chance for a strong performance this weekend inside of Death Valley when the Tigers host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 3:30 p.m.