Travis Etienne most likely will have a better season this year than he did as a true freshman.
He knows what he is doing now.
The Clemson running back said everything happened so fast last year he did not have time to learn everything. He had to learn on the run. Unfortunately for him, and at times for the Tigers, he did not learn everything.
Regardless, the Jennings, La., native still had a good season, rushing for a team-high 766 yards, while setting a freshman record with 13 rushing touchdowns in Clemson’s return to the College Football Playoff.
This year, Etienne is hoping his increase knowledge of the playbook and his better understanding of protection schemes will allow him to have a better overall season in 2018.
“I feel like I got better this spring knowledge wise,” Etienne said. “I got a clearer understanding of the playbook and reading things like the schemes and coverages. My pre-snap reads really increased this spring.”
Etienne said he has grown a lot since the Sugar Bowl loss to Alabama, and his position coach agrees with him. Tony Elliott, who is also the co-offensive coordinator, said the sophomore is pushing Tavien Feaster for the starting job.
Feaster will be listed first heading into fall camp, but Etienne is not too far behind.
“I have grown a lot. Just knowing the playbook and learning different things,” Etienne said. “I know more what to do and what coach is talking about. I know why I have to do it. It is not just about what you do, but why. I have really grown in that area.”
Etienne has learned the most important thing for him to do is his own job.
“You owe that do your buddies out there on the field,” he said. “Each man has to do his job. If each man does his job, then everyone is going to be alright.”
Pass protection was Etienne’s major weakness last year. There were times he had to come off the field because the coaches did not trust him to make the right reads. That is starting to change as Etienne has proven in practice he has more of bass than he had last year and he has picked up on what he has been taught.
“My pass protection has definitely come a long way,” he said. “Just being in position and getting in the way helps stop me from giving up a sack. I’m where I want to be technique wise, but I have a little more to clean up. But I have definitely made a huge improvement.”