Travis Etienne has showed the full range of his athletic ability since he returned for his senior season at Clemson.
The top-ranked Tigers have utilized their running back in every way possible from running the ball, catching balls out of the backfield to returning punts.
Trevor Lawrence knows Etienne is a special player and sometimes gets lost during the game just watching him break tackles and turn losses into big gains. The junior quarterback has trouble carrying out his fakes in anticipation of Etienne’s remarkable runs. In fact, Lawrence has graded lower because he has turned his attention to Etienne.
“As a quarterback after we hand the ball off, we fake it and take five hard steps the opposite way. It’s a big thing and we get graded with loafs if we don’t do it,” Lawrence said. “Some games I’ll get a couple of loafs because when you hand the ball off it’s hard not to watch him.”
So far this season Etienne has carried the ball 39 times for 243 yards and two touchdowns with one game over 100 yards. He has also caught nine passes for 172 yards and a touchdown, including five receptions for 114 yards and a score against Virginia this past Saturday.
Etienne leads the Clemson offense with 459 all-purpose yards for an average 153 yards per game. After he touches the ball Etienne average 6.2 yards per carry and 19.1 yards per reception.
Lawrence knew what Etienne was capable of but feels that this year’s version of the running back has been nothing short of remarkable.
“The things he does are unbelievable sometimes,” the quarterback said. “We were at about the 12-yard line and he was pretty much tackled for a loss and I was looking for the next play then he busted out and next thing you know he was scoring. Things like that, you never know in any situation what he is going to get out of.”
The senior tailback has alleviated a lot of stress from Lawrence and has given the Clemson offense one of the most balanced attacks in college football. Lawrence recognizes that Etienne is more than a great running back.
“As far as in the box, I honestly don’t know who to compare him to but he’s special,” Lawrence said. “His speed, and if you hit him in the legs, not many people are going to take him down. He is a special back for sure.”
Clemson faces its biggest test of the season thus far when it hosts No. 7 Miami at Death Valley on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. on ABC.