Clemson ground game steps up in win over Yellow Jackets
|Sunday, September 23, 2018, 12:29 PM- -|
ATLANTA, GA – Georgia Tech entered Saturday’s game leading the nation in rushing yards per game, but it was the Tigers who established the dominant ground game.
Tech entered the game averaging over 392 yards per game on the ground but managed to scrounge just 146 rushing yards Saturday evening in Clemson’s 49-21 win at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Meanwhile, Clemson was a team on a mission to challenge the offensive line – a group that hasn’t gotten off to the best start in 2018 – and establish the ground game with Travis Etienne, Tavien Feaster and Adam Choice.
Mission accomplished as the Tigers carried the ball 36 times for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Etienne led the group with 11 carries for 122 yards and a score, while Feaster added eight rushes for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Etienne told the media that the success on the ground was the product of a renewed sense of urgency and focus.
“Coming in, we knew they were leading the nation with the most rushing yards and for us to come in here and establish the run the way that we did, it was really great,” Etienne said. “It just came down to all 11 guys focusing on our job and doing our job. We went out there and had a focused mentality. We just had the will to do it today and we have to keep that energy.”
Co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott said he likes what he saw from all of his running backs, especially Feaster, who has been limited during the first part of the season as he recovers from meniscus surgery.
“I was really proud of him (Feaster), he is a guy that has just been battling to find his rhythm and today we saw that burst that we all know he is capable of having, so that is big for his confidence,” Elliott said. “I think he rushed for about 9 yards a carry and a lot of that was after contact as well. Proud of Feaster, Travis and Adam made some plays. We’ve got a good group, we just have to stay humble.
“We have to understand that every week we have to show up. From my perspective and know what we're trying to do on offense, we still have some things we do without the football a little better. That interception that Trevor (Lawrence) will get credit for, actually Travis was supposed to be banging the defensive end before we throw that football. So then it results in an interception. Proud of the way the guys are running the football. We just have to continue to grow and develop without the ball.”
However, credit can’t just be given to the running backs. Elliott said the offensive line probably had its best game as well.
“Just looking at it you would say yes, but we are going to go back and watch the tape and go over all of the details. We challenged them and we want to run the football," Elliott said. "In the first half, we only had about 50 yards of rushing the football. A lot of that was that we had RPO’s built in.
“We didn’t really get in a rhythm and had a three and out. Then we found some explosive plays, then we go and have a two-play touchdown drive. I think their guy might have busted a coverage, but Trevor found (Justyn) Ross on the sideline. We knew that when we came out in the second half that we were going to commit to running the football and finding the running lanes, which the backs did a great job of finding.”