Etienne excited about rivalry game, ready to prove he deserves award recognition


by - Senior Writer -
Etienne knows what the rivalry means in South Carolina.
Etienne knows what the rivalry means in South Carolina.

CLEMSON - Star junior running back Travis Etienne plays in his third Palmetto Bowl against South Carolina this Saturday. Growing up in Louisiana, Etienne did not know much about this rivalry, but since arriving at Clemson, he knows the importance it has to both the fans and in-state players and coaches who are involved.

“This rivalry is just something in itself and it means a lot to the people around me,” Etienne said. “Just hearing from their perspective how much this means to them, it’s just kind of fascinating that people take the game so seriously. And for the fans, they really take pride in this.”

Two years ago, Etienne was a freshman for the Tigers when they played at Williams-Brice Stadium. He remembers the environment and how loud and rowdy the fans were that night.

“I remember them just jumping around and waving a bunch of white towels,” Etienne said. “It was loud and a great experience for me, but we got the win, so I remember winning.”

Etienne has notably had less carries than all of the other star running backs in the country this year. Down the stretch, that gives him fresh legs to have a big ending to the season in both the ACC Championship and the postseason.

“I definitely feel much better. Just running around today, it felt like we were getting ready for fall camp. I definitely have taken care of my body a lot this year,” Etienne said.

The star Clemson running back has had a record-breaking year for the Tigers. He has carried the ball 153 times for 1,335 yards and 14 touchdowns and he has only had four fourth-quarter carries all year. But despite Etienne’s dominance, he was left off most of the postseason awards, notably for the Doak Walker Award, which recognizes the best running back in the nation. But Etienne is not bothered by being left off the list and just wants the Tigers to be in the right position to win.

“No sir, it doesn’t (bother me). We are where we want to be as a team. We control our destiny as a team. Football is an ultimate team sport so I can’t get caught up on individual awards,” Etienne said.

Being selected as a finalist for the award is out of Etienne’s control, but all he can do is go out Saturday and show everyone why he deserved to be a finalist and why he Is the best running back in the nation.

“I just try to control what I can control week in and week out and play the game to the best of my ability,” Etienne said. “If I didn’t get invited, there is nothing I can do about it but go out there next weekend and show them why I should have been invited.”

There is no question that Etienne is one of the best running backs in the nation, if not the best. The way he dominates opponents and consistently puts up the same huge numbers as other running backs, with fewer carries, proves that.

Etienne and the Tigers take the field Saturday at noon to try and extend their winning streak over the Gamecocks to six games. And the explosive running back plans to have another huge game against South Carolina’s defemse.

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