Clemson Freshmen Running Backs Pass First Test Of Season

JP-Priester

For most teams, having three running backs unavailable for a game could be devastating. Not for the No. 1 Clemson Tigers though. 

With Lyn-J Dixon being held out for precautionary reasons, and Mikey Dukes and Chez Mellusi both unavailable, the Tigers turned to their two freshmen backs late in Saturday night's win over Wake Forest. 

Demarckus Bowman and Kobe Pace each carried the ball six times down the stretch against the Demon Deacons. Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott was pleased with how each of his young backs performed once the lights were on.

"You know I thought they did a good job," Elliott said on Monday. "First just overall, you know handling the situation, I thought the lights weren't too bright for them. You always worry about that when you got young guys, first game action, how are they going to be. I thought they both rose to the occasion."

While neither may be quite ready to be a full-time running back in the Tigers offense just yet, both performed quite well in complimentary roles down the stretch. It was a good first outing for the two freshmen as they attempt to find their roles on this Clemson team.

"Thought for the most part, they were settled in on the plan," Elliott said. They were able to retain information, didn't get tested as much in pass protection. At that point in the game, you know if I thought there was going to be some situations where there might be something complex, you know roll Darien (Rencher) in there."

There is nothing more valuable than live reps and Elliott thinks both freshmen took advantage of their opportunities over the weekend. While both still have a lot of learning to do, it was a good first step for the young backs. 

In a season in which depth could play a key role in exactly how successful a team can be, Elliott says their development could be critical later on in the season.

"Overall I was pleased with their performance," Elliott said. "You know, thought that they made the most of the opportunities and it was good for those guys to get some experience. I think down the stretch run, it's going to be critical for their development and also will be critical for our success, you know as an offense."

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