Elliott on self-scouting: Hand the ball to Travis Etienne in short-yardage situations
|Thursday, March 5, 2020, 4:03 PM- -|
CLEMSON – When in doubt, hand the ball to Travis Etienne.
Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott spent almost 25 minutes with the media following Wednesday’s practice. Elliott said that part of the offseason plan is to go back and look at every play and game from the prior season and self-evaluate. What went right? What went wrong? What can be done better?
The Clemson offense was prolific in 2019, averaging 43.9 points per game while totaling a school-record 7,931 yards (528.7 per game). There is room for improvement.
“We weren’t good those last two games (against Ohio State and LSU) on third down, particularly third-and-3,” Elliott said. “Overall, our percentage wasn’t there. We weren’t as good as we needed to be. We were really good on third-and-6, that medium area. And then in short yardage, we didn’t hit our goal of 75 percent. We were at 68 percent.”
Running the football on third down could also be better, and giving the ball to Etienne presents the best chance at a conversion.
“When we broke it down, we were really good at running the football (on third down),” he said. “We took some chances throwing the football, so we learned we probably need to hand the ball to (running back) Travis (Etienne) a little more in those short-yardage situations if you want to convert.”
The Tigers were just 1-of-11 in the national championship game against LSU, the worst third-down conversion percentage of the Dabo Swinney era (9.09).
“We didn't finish the way we wanted to offensively, but when you step back and look at it, we accomplished a lot of things,” Elliott said. “When you dial it back, our touchdown percentage in the red zone was really, really good, but we had a turnover in the red zone. We missed a couple of field goals. We had a couple of end-of-game situations where we didn’t convert when we went for it. So those are some of the biggest things.”
The number of plays per game is also an area Elliott would like to see improvement.
“Around here, we always try to get to 80 plays, but the last couple of years we’ve been around 72,” Elliott said. “Now, we’re a lot more explosive than when we had those 80 plays, but we’re trying to find that happy medium where we can get our snap count up without jeopardizing our efficiency and our explosiveness.”