Last week, Clemson freshman Will Shipley said there was "jealousy" in the Tigers' running back room early in the season.
With a lot of bodies, some older than others, there was a certain "hierarchy" that was expected, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said, after Travis Etienne left, and it took some time for new running backs coach C.J. Spiller to get his room in order.
But watching last Saturday's 30-0 victory over rival South Carolina, the No. 17 Tigers had about as healthy, both physically and emotionally, a running back position as it could be at this point in the season as they rushed for 265 yards.
That's because Shipley and sophomore Kobe Pace have formed a complimentary, two-headed monster in the backfield.
"Every drive, every time I come off the field he's giving me tips," Shipley said. "I'm telling him what I'm seeing when he's in. We just bounce off one another. It's a great relationship and it's getting better and better throughout the whole season."
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Shipley rushed for 128 yards and 6.7 per carry while Pace added 58 yards and 8.3 per rush. They each had two rushing touchdowns in a game that was never in doubt. What also wasn't questioned was the chemistry these two rushers, along with freshman Phil Mafah, share.
"I love Kobe. I love to see his success," Shipley said. "To put up eight yards a carry is huge. It makes it a lot easier on me to produce. It kind of takes some of the weight off. It's great."
This duo has coexisted well since both got healthy and running backs Lyn-J Dixon and Michel Dukes transferred out of the program. Shipley leads the team with 678 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games. Through 10 contests, Pace is right behind him with 590 yards and six touchdowns.
They combined for 489 yards and six touchdowns against South Carolina and Wake Forest. But last Saturday marked the first time this season that the Tigers showcased both of them in the backfield at the same time.
The two-back look took South Carolina by surprise, and the Gamecocks struggled to adjust.
"It was very successful," Shipley said. "It's hard to game plan for that. I think going forward we'll build off of that."
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