With all the talk about reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, no one really talks about the other big playmakers on Louisville’s offense.
Wide receiver Jaylen Smith leads the ACC with 17 receptions for 300 yards in just two games. He is averaging 17.6 yards per catch. Then there is freshman Dez Fitzpatrick who has eight catches for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
Seth Dawkins has seven catches for 101 yards and running back Malik Williams had 149 yards in last week’s win over North Carolina.
“They are really good, and they added a new one,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said on Tuesday. “Dez Fitzpatrick, he is a redshirt, a kid from Ohio. He is a really good player. Jalen Smith, in particular, they have an excellent group of receivers. They are all big, really, big. You will see in pre-game.”
Jackson’s weapons don’t just compliment him, but they find a way to get open too when he starts to scramble.
“You can tell they have been in that situation many times,” Venables said. “They know what to do. He can buy time and he finds them.”
Clemson DBs have to be on point. Because Jackson is so good at extending plays, cornerback Trayvon Mullen says they have to stay disciplined and not lose sight of where their man is.
Last week, in Clemson’s win over Auburn, the secondary did a good job of staying with their man and keeping them covered up when quarterback Jarrett Stidham ran around to try and extend plays.
“This game is very important because (Jackson) exposes a lot of people with the way he plays as far as people missing tackles and him still running and getting the ball to his players,” Mullen said. “I think if we stay disciplined and do our jobs then it will be alright for us.”
Going back to the scene of the crime. The legend we know as Hunter Renfrow began at Papa John’s Stadium two years ago against Louisville when he hauled in a 32-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson for the Tigers’ first touchdown in the 20-17 victory.
It was Renfrow’s first career touchdown.
“It seems like so much has happened since then,” Renfrow said with a grin. “That seems like it was yesterday but it also seems like it was ten years ago. I remember my parents weren’t going to come up to that game because it was eight hours away and I wasn’t even starting that game.
“I caught a little post and I remember it was a four-quarter game just like Auburn (this past week). We both traded blows but we came out on top.”
It was Renfrow’s only catch in the game. Of course, we all know what has happened since then.
Will Etienne play against Louisville? Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said freshman running back Travis Etienne did not play against Auburn last week because the coaching staff felt he was not quite ready to be in that type of game.
Could the Tigers use the Jennings, La., native against the Cardinals on Saturday? Swinney would not say directly, but he said Etienne will play when they feel he is ready.
“He’ll get his snaps as they come, and he’s got to prove it when he gets his opportunity,” Swinney said. “Travis is going to be awesome, and he’s going to get his opportunity. … He’s an unbelievable prospect.”
Etienne played in the Tigers’ season opener against Kent State two weeks ago as he rushed for a game-high 81 yards on eight carries, including a 54-yard run. He also scored on a 4-yard touchdown.