The Georgia-Clemson showdown between two top 5 programs is one of the most anticipated matches of Week 1. The heavyweight fight is dripping with intrigue. What will Clemson look like without Trevor Laurent? Can DJ Uiagalelei reproduce the magic he had last year? Can Georgia finally make a big statement against one of college football’s elite programs?
All eyes will be on the quarterfinals, but ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit is really focused on Clemson’s rushed attack.
“Let’s face it: Clemson last year couldn’t lead football,” Herbstreit told Clemson247’s Anna Hickey. “Since they’ve been on this run for the past seven years, the quarterback run has been a big part of that. I think if you go back to ’18 and ’19 they led the nation in yards. per race. Last year they couldn’t run so they had to throw. I think the biggest story for me for Clemson is “what are they doing without Travis Etienne? “more than” what are they going to do without Lawrence? “
Kobe Pace, Lyn-J Dixon and Will shipley are part of the running backs who will try to put themselves in Etienne’s place. Stephen was extremely productive for four years at Clemson, accumulating 6,107 yards and 78 touchdowns on 788 touches.
Former Tigers running back CJ Spiller now coaches Clemson tailbacks, and he got to see Shipley up close during spring practice. At a recent press conference, Spiller was asked about his first impressions of the five-star signer. Spiller said he was impressed by Shipley’s willingness to learn, which sometimes needs to be held back.
“He’s going to be really good,” Spiller said. “Will did a great job coming in and really wanting to learn. He was very eager to come in and learn the playbook. He’s one of those guys that sometimes you might have to take them out a bit because ‘They want to learn so much. You just want him to take it one day at a time. He comes from a big foundation in his high school over in Weddington with his trainer. You see it kind of translates here at Clemson now. I am delighted to see him grow as a player. He will hopefully have a special career here at Clemson.
Spiller knows people will try to draw comparisons between him and Shipley, who could also be used as a dangerous weapon in the rematch. However, Clemson’s running back coach tries to encourage Shipley to be the best he can be without trying to replicate someone else’s play. That’s not to say that Spiller won’t give him advice based on his own experience.
“I don’t want him to be like me,” Spiller said. “I want him to be like Will shipley. That’s the thing I tell him because I know these comparisons are going to happen. I don’t want him to put extra pressure. I’m just trying to tell her ‘Go ahead Will shipley. ‘ I’m going to give him some hints as to how I saw him as a comeback, but I don’t want him to be the same return as me. Is going to be better than I was. Go break the NCAA record if that happens. I will give her all the knowledge, wisdom and things that I have seen as a revenant, but don’t go back there and try to do what I did. This really is my biggest message to guys this spring is just be yourself. I don’t want you to be anyone other than yourself, especially with Will.
Matt Howe of 247Sports contributed to this report.