Etienne seeks yardage against the Canes. (Photo courtesy of ACC)
Travis Etienne is overshadowed by the quarterback’s commanding presence
Trevor Lawrence at times, but on Saturday night he showed the whole nation that the Tigers’ running back dynamic should be in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy.
Etienne led the ball 17 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns and added eight receptions for the team for 73 yards in the leadership of Clemson # 1. 1 to a dominant 42-17 win over Miami Saturday night No. 7 in Death Valley.
With the Tigers holding a 21-10 in the third quarter, Etienne interrupted the run of the night, running right for a 72 yarder who effectively put an end to what little momentum Miami had built up.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit called the win over Miami and remembers the first time he saw Etienne – the freshman interrupted a long touchdown run in Louisville in 2017.
“I called that game in Louisville that night and I don’t remember who the other one was, they had another defender who was still on the team he was playing, and I think he was a starter and I remember Dabo leading the game was like, wait, wait , you see this freshman that we have? You know, he can fly and he has a bright future, ”Herbstreit said earlier this week. “But Dabo – I mean, the way they recruit every year, they have some guys that he says it about, and then he came in and brought one home and our cameras caught him and all you saw was his big smile and braces. And he looked like a 16 or 17 year old boy. And you saw that speed, that initial flurry and then his speed that the guys couldn’t reach – that was my first observation of him. “
Herbstreit loved to follow Etienne’s career.
“And then, of course, I’ve been following him very closely throughout his career. I remember seeing him the following year when he came back and I saw a lot more strength in his lower body and his ability to bounce on tackles with his arms, “Herbstreit said.” I think in his third year I started seeing more patience, instead of going right away and trusting his speed. He started through that, than the repetitions of the game and the experience he had himself. He started waiting for the games to develop and waiting and waiting and then, like the big backs do, then he hit. And so I think it was a very, very natural growth for him in that position. “
As an elder, Etienne appears to be setting a record every week and is turning into the kind of full back he deserves to be in the Heisman conversation and deserves to get a little more attention from the rest of the nation.
“This year you will see all in one: patience, speed which is as good as anyone in the country. The power that now has the balance … you saw it last week against Virginia, when he had that spin move and was hit, “Herbstreit said.” And somehow he kept the balance, he lowered his hand and scored by taking the ball off the field of play. I just think he became a complete defender and I think it was really a bit of an eye opener when he said he would be back, you know, after last year, I think a lot of people thought he was going to leave and I think it’s an example of guys who have decided to come back and complete their maturation before moving on to the next level. Now an NFL team will have a guy who isn’t quite inferior. I don’t think the nation gives him the love or appreciation he deserves. I think it’s because Trevor gets so much attention for that crime over the past couple of years. “
Miami manager Manny Diaz said after the game that Etienne is “the guy” for Clemson’s attack.
“I can talk superlatively about Trevor Lawrence all day, but Travis Etienne is the guy. He’s as good as a college football player as he is in college football,” Diaz said. “Obviously the whole plan on the third down is not to let him throw the ball to Etienne and that’s easier said than done because when he gets on the open field it’s very dangerous. Again, we have to do better than what we did. because Trevor Lawrence threw the five-yard ball on a swing to Etienne and let him go. Those balls also count as passing yards. We weren’t able to take away what they do best and what their strength was on the third down. We made changes and improved as the game went on, but those first two drives were really tough. “
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