And it has nothing to do with The Citadel
In last week’s win at Wake Forest, top-ranked Clemson got what they wanted out of the running game. Despite missing three guys, the Tigers rushed for 185 yards, while star running back Travis Etienne ran for 102 yards on 17 carries and scored on a one-yard touchdown.
The thing that stood out the most about the ground game was the fact Clemson had three players who were not available to play. Lyn-J Dixon (knee), Chez Mellusi (shoulder) and Michel Dukes.
After Etienne left the game in the third quarter with the Tigers holding a 34-point lead at the time, it left the running duties up to senior Darien Rencher and true freshmen Demarkcus Bowman and Kobe Pace. The three combined for 78 yards on 19 carries, or 4.1 yards per carry.
Not bad considering it was the first time Bowman and Pace ever played in a college football game.
Those two freshmen will likely get more work when the Tigers host The Citadel in their home opener Saturday at Death Valley, though Clemson expects to have Dixon, Mellusi and Dukes back.
“Lyn-J was ready to go [at Wake Forest], but we wanted to be smart,” offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott said. “You are talking about coming back off a knee as a running back and not having as much contact on it because he missed some of the critical contact time there with his rehab. So, I really did not want to push it and he understood it.”
With those running backs expected to play this week, Elliott will have a difficult job deciding when and how he uses all seven running backs, especially considering his starter is the two-time ACC Player of the Year.
“It is going to be a challenge when you have seven guys that are ready to play,” he said.
Clemson and The Citadel will kick off Saturday at 4 p.m., and the game will be televised by the ACC Network.
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