LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Travis Etienne wants and tries to make the most of each rushing attempt he gets in any given game.
The junior running back managed to do exactly that Saturday, when he amassed 192 yards and averaged 13.7 yards per carry on just 14 rushing attempts while helping second-ranked Clemson to a 45-10 over Louisville at Cardinal Stadium.
“I don’t know why, but I feel like I go into the games with the mindset where I’m going to get the ball 20 times,” Etienne said after the game. “But for me, it’s just making the most out of each carry. I can’t focus on the 30th carry if I haven’t done my best on the second one. So, just going out there and maximize my opportunity and try to do more with less…
“I feel like that’s what makes me great is going out there and being able to maximize my opportunity — no matter the situation or how the game’s going, just have that next-play mentality and just holding myself to a standard where I should go out there and play free.”
Etienne set the tone for Clemson’s ground attack from the get-go. On the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage, he gashed Louisville’s defense for a 48-yard run that set up the first score of the game, a 51-yard field goal by B.T. Potter.
Later in the contest, Etienne broke loose for a 49-yard touchdown run, which extended Clemson’s lead to 24-3 with 1:35 remaining in the third quarter and was essentially the dagger to any hopes of a Cardinal comeback.
“I’m just getting back to myself and just being the best version of me,” Etienne said of his performance. “So, it’s kind of working out in my favor.”
Following a subpar showing at North Carolina on Sept. 28, when Etienne ran for only 67 yards and lost a fumble that led to a pivotal UNC touchdown, the preseason All-American has bounced back in a big way.
In the last two games against Florida State and Louisville, Etienne has totaled 319 yards on 31 carries, an average of 10.3 yards per tote.
Etienne admitted he lost some focus leading into the game at UNC, which came before Clemson’s bye week.
“That bye week, that UNC game, it kind of put it into perspective for me that you have to be great today and you can’t take things for granted, and just be blessed,” he said. “I play for Clemson football. It’s just crazy that I play for Clemson football, and not taking that for granted and just realizing that.”
Etienne finished 8 yards shy of 200 against Louisville, a tally that would have made him the first running back in Clemson history with three 200-yard rushing games in a career.
The native of Jennings, Louisiana, left the game with a lower-body injury on his final carry early in the fourth quarter but says the injury is nothing serious.
“I had made a little cut and my foot landed awkward and my ankle kind of tweaked on me,” Etienne said. “It was like instant impact. I couldn’t put any pressure on it at that time, but when I got on the sideline, got across the field, I felt much better.”
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