Before the season started, Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott told his running back group, if they wanted to separate themselves from one another, then they had to make the most of their opportunities when they got them.
So far all four have made the most of their opportunities. C.J. Fuller has scored two touchdowns, Tavien Feaster is averaging 9.3 yards per carry, Adam Choice has a couple of touchdowns as well and Travis Etienne became the first running back at Clemson since 2007 to take a touchdown 80 yards or more.
“It is a good problem to have. I’m pleased with all of their play,” Elliott said. “What I like is that when one comes out and another comes in you do not see a drop off in play. So those guys are pushing each other, and obviously, it is a situation where all of those guys can be in there and function in all situations with the exception of Travis, who is still learning. It is a good problem to have.”
Elliott said he was really pleased with how Feaster ran the ball against a Louisville defense that was giving up just 1.8 yards per carry prior to Saturday night. The Spartanburg, S.C., native rushed for 92 yards on just 10 carries and he did it while the game was still in doubt.
Feaster’s 26-yard run in the third quarter set up Kelly Bryant’s one-yard touchdown.
“I think we are starting to see that he is really feeling comfortable in size and in his body,” Elliott said. “He made some runs that really showed he is really trying to listen to what I am telling him to do.”
The sophomore is also getting better with each game, especially when it comes to running the football.
“I really challenge Tavien,” Elliott said. “He is the biggest guy we have in the room. Obviously, we all know how fast that he is coming out of high school, but now he is starting to drop his pads and he ran through some tackles. His eyes were talking to his feet very, very well.
“He made some cuts between the tackles and was starting to see things develop and obviously had an opportunity to break a run for 26 yards.”
But there are also some areas in which Feaster has to improve. He was charged with allowing one of the four sacks on Kelly Bryant, when he had bad technique on the play. It was a third-and-six play and the nine-yard loss knocked the Tigers out of field goal range.
“The areas to improve are just without the ball in pass protection,” Elliott said. “He is targeted on the right guy, but his technique was not where it needed to be. He went a little low on the cut block. Probably a guy with more opportunities and more experience would have faced the guy up because he was not rushing with a full head of steam. He was kind of jacking around the hole, but those are just things without the ball where I want to see Tavien improve.”