The Clemson Tigers offense sputtered at times a season ago. They seemed out of rhythm and lacking playmakers especially early in the year. Things started to pick up once they began to lean on the running game more. That looks like it will need to be the case early in 2022 as well while the passing game searches for consistent production. This means that Will Shipley and Kobe Pace will again be an extremely important piece to Clemson’s success. The sophomore should have a huge year in 2022.
Tailback Tandem Key for Tigers Offense
Clemson is looking to rebound from what was for them a slightly down year of only 9 regular season wins. They are replacing coordinators on both sides of the ball, so having reliable production could be key early in the season. The defense should once again be at an elite level with loads of talent returning. However, the Tigers offense is indeed in need of a bounce back season. Shipley and Pace will be leaned on heavily as Clemson finds its rhythm in the passing game. In 2021 these two combined for over 1600 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns. That is almost equal to the rest of the returning production across the offensive side of the ball.
Shift and Go
After a slow start due mainly to being a freshman on a team with national title aspirations, the North Carolina native was excellent in the season’s second half. Shipley also missed a few games after a knee injury in against N.C. State. When he returned, the offense began to show signs of promise. He has a shiftiness to his game and can find creases in the defense and manufacture space to gain yards. Shipley also has some surprising power considering he isn’t the biggest back out there. He can move the pile and get the tough yards when necessary. Shipley ended 2021 in very strong fashion, with 100+ yards on the ground in the three of the final 5 games.
The 5’11” 200-pound tailback also showed some versatility in the bowl victory over Iowa State. He had over 100 yards total offense and season highs in receptions and receiving yards. As he enters his second season, his usage should expand more. Shipley has the ability to become a game changer in both the run and pass games. The sophomore is also tasked with kick return duties.
Back Up Plan
When Shipley was forced to miss a few games with his injury last year, Pace was right there to pick up the slack. The speedy junior had 125 yards on ground against Boston College and 76 yards the following contest at Syracuse. He had 191 yards on 24 carries in a dominant win over Wake Forest to close out the ACC slate. Pace has good vison to find the hole and a lightning quick burst to get through it. While Shipley is the unquestioned starter, Pace will play a huge role in 2022. There isn’t a drop off in production when he comes in the game, which will allow the Tiger offense to keep both backs fresh. Strong tailback tandems have become a normal occurrence in Clemson, and this season will be no different.
Run The Jewels
As the Tiger offense finds itself under a new coordinator and tries to help D.J. Uiagalelei rebound from a subpar 2021, the running game will play a huge role. Shipley and Pace will likely be asked to carry a lot of the load early in the season. Clemson will be searching for consistency from its quarterback and whichever receivers step up. While they wait, the ground game should keep the chains moving with two talented backs toting the rock. Clemson wants to get back to the elite level it has enjoyed over the past 7 seasons, the tailback tandem of Shipley and Pace will try to carry them there.