The Spark: Etienne's success driving the Clemson offense


by - Senior Writer -
Etienne has broken the 100-yard mark in three straight games
Etienne has broken the 100-yard mark in three straight games

CLEMSON – Clemson’s offense has been operating at a high level the last three weeks, and the spark has come not from the quarterback spot or any of the wide receivers. The spark comes from running back Travis Etienne.

The Tigers have averaged 306.7 rushing yards per game the last three weeks, which has led to marks of 551 total yards, 552 total yards and 674 total yards of offense in all three wins. Etienne has averaged 142.7 yards per game during the three-game stretch despite not getting more than 16 carries in any of the games.

“Travis Etienne has been awesome. That is probably the biggest thing,” head coach Dabo Swinney said.

“Travis Etienne has been the spark. He has been awesome. He has been almost unstoppable. I’m just super proud of him, and again, the offensive line has done a great job all year. They really have.”

Etienne didn’t have his best game in the Tigers’ one-point win at North Carolina a month ago, including issues in pass protection, and running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said everyone has to remember that Etienne is still young.

“Travis is one of the best young persons to ever come through out program, but he's still a young person,” Elliott said Monday. “I think all of us have been in situations where sometimes we have to learn by touching the stove, and I think that's what happened at North Carolina. He's had so much success and he thought he was going to be able to go out there and kind of do what he needed to do to get the job done, but you've got to have a certain intensity and focus, and he got exposed in pass protection and he took that to heart.

“Now coach Swinney was hard on him that week. For me as his coach, he's such a mature young man that I don't have to scream at him. I can talk to him and tell him these are the things you need to do. I think it's a renewed sense of urgency with him."

Swinney said the offense goes through Etienne, and the coaches challenged Etienne to play better after the North Carolina game.

“The biggest thing is making sure we get our playmakers involved and certainly, it all kind of goes through (Etienne),” Swinney said. “I think it is more coming off the North Carolina game and really challenging Travis to play to his capabilities. That was part of it.

“We did want to make sure he got some guaranteed touches for sure, but we are at our best when they are taking what they give us. That is what you saw Saturday night and Trevor (Lawrence) was just awesome with our RPO game, our play action game, and the decisions in the run game.”

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