Tigers plan to keep feeding Etienne the football

Tigers plan to keep feeding Etienne the football

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Tigers plan to keep feeding Etienne the football

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Tremayne Anchrum would love to see running back Travis Etienne continue to get the football straight up like he did a lot in second-ranked Clemson’s win over Florida State this past Saturday.

Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott is going to oblige his starting right tackle, especially after Etienne and the running game tallied 320 yards against the Seminoles.

“Obviously, we are going to go out there and do our job to the best of our ability no matter what play is called, but when it is a direct run and it is a straight up run call, that is the bread and butter for the offensive line,” Anchrum said. “That is what we play football for. We play a physical position and we are a physical group, so getting out there and knowing we are going to beat our guy, there is no pressure for us. It is really fun.”

Etienne ran for 127 of those yards on 17 carries in the Tigers’ 45-14 win over Florida State. It was the first time he went over the century mark in a game since rushing for 205 yards in the season opener against Georgia Tech.

On Monday, Elliott said he has to do a better job in certain situations of taking the RPO (run-pass-option) off and just calling a straight up run regardless of what the defense is showing him.

“If you give Travis the ball, he is going to break a tackle or two. So, it does not have to be perfect,” Elliott said. “It is taking a little stress off of Trevor (Lawrence) too, where he does not have to make every situation right.”

Against Florida State, the Tigers (6-0, 4-0 ACC) ran a lot of two tight end sets with some flash motion, which forced the ball to Etienne.

“Just incorporating that and not just making it a situation where you are putting all the ownness on the RPO to bail you out, some times you have to force the issue and that is what we did, especially when we got inside the red zone,” Elliott said. “Let’s take the RPO off and lets hand this off to Travis and let’s go.”

Elliott, who also coaches the running backs, said 60 percent of the offense is RPO based off what look the defense is showing. Clemson leaves the RPOs off in the red zone depending on what a defense’s tendencies are.

Some of the Tigers best blocked played come in RPO situations, but no one knows it because Lawrence pulls the ball and throws it to either Amari Rodgers or someone else.

“That is what is tough on the offensive line and for Travis because some of the best blocked plays, where that apex player was too tight to the box that we needed to throw the RPO, so you don’t get the hand off. Sometimes you just have to say let’s force the hand off,” Elliott said.  “That is where I have to grow, too, and continue to get better. That is something I am challenging myself is being able to get away from making everything perfect and giving all the answers. Give them enough answers, but sometimes let’s go force the issue because I think we are capable of doing that.”

Elliott says this is the next step in developing this year’s offense.

“I think there is a lot bit more predictability when you are going to definitely hand the ball off just because of some of the sets you get in to force the issue where you take some of the RPOs out. That is the challenge,” he said. “This week was good for me and good for us, offensively, to say this is probably the next step in our offense to be able to jump from RPO to design run to play action and do some different things.”

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