For many, the Clemson football running game was a three-headed monster headed into the 2022 season, with Will Shipley, Kobe Pace and Phil Mafah.
So much so that the Tigers have struggled to recruit their next featured back.
But Pace injured an ankle and has hardly played, which left Shipley and Mafah to handle the load in the running game, with periodic help from a slimmed-down D.J. Uiagalelei.
Will Shipley has been up to the task.
After 8 games Shipley leads Clemson with 726 yards rushing on 123 attempts, which works out to a 5.9-yard per-carry average.
Almost two-thirds (476) of those yards have come after contact and 30 missed tackles forced over 8 games to make that point.
While the Tigers run game is not as explosive as it was during the Travis Etienne era, Shipley does have 22 explosive runs (10+ yards) and 9 runs of 15 or more yards.
A threat receiving the ball out of the backfield, Shipley has 19 receptions on 20 targets and is dangerous as the wheel route against N.C. State showed.
Shipley is a tough, ferocious runner and competitor and you can count on his best effort on every run.
Not blessed with the breakaway speed of an Etienne, Shipley fights and churns for extra yards, pushing the pile forward with power and will.
One area that still needs work is the pass pro, where Shipley struggled last season and has an even worse rating this season, per PFF.com.
Will Shipley leads the Clemson football running game with a workmanlike style that fits this team
In an offense that can struggle at times, with a lack of playmakers on the outside, effort is imperative and Shipley provides that in bunches.
Is he Travis Etienne? No. Few are and that’s not a fair comparison as they are different backs with different skills.
Still, there’s something to be said for a back with Shipley’s skills and “want to”.
He runs hard from the first snap to the last. He catches the ball.
The Clemson running game is in good hands.