Trevor Lawrence is certainly the key to a dominant offense for Clemson, but Travis Etienne may be crucial to becoming back-to-back national champions.
All the media attention surrounding Clemson this offseason was centered around the team’s star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Deservedly so after 30 touchdowns as a freshman but running back Travis Etienne shouldn’t be overlooked amid the Lawrence hype. Etienne will make Lawrence’s job easier with performances like the one candidate. Georgia Tech in the opener.
In the first game of Etienne’s coveted junior season, the junior flashed the same versatility and speed from the previous two seasons while dominating Georgia Tech’s defense for 205 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries.
Lawrence, who has major expectations entering his sophomore season, struggled early in the game but was picked up by Etienne’s performance including a 90-yard touchdown run. The performance opened up the game and let Clemson cruise to an easy win.
Travis Etienne has home run speed
The importance of Etienne getting off to a fast start is extremely vital to Clemson’s offensive success in 2019. Opposing defensive coordinators are surely going to try to challenge Trevor Lawrence by disguising coverages and blitzes attempting to confuse the young quarterback forcing him into some difficult decisions and throws.
If Etienne runs like he did against Georgia Tech the rest of the season, the pressure will fade off the shoulders of Lawrence and allow for more play-action.
Much of the attention will be on the performance of Lawrence because of how valuable the quarterback is to a championship. But Etienne is just as important for the Tigers’.
If there are any signs of Lawrence struggling in a bit of a sophomore slump type season, Etienne’s veteran experience in Swinney’s offense can produce some outstanding results in the meantime.
You could even make the argument Etienne is one of the most underrated players in the nation. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Georgia’s D’Andre Swift get a lot of attention but don’t forget about Etienne.
His acceleration and toughness running the football is arguable the best in college. He could end up being a future first-round pick in the NFL Draft.
Unfortunately for Etienne his performances are often pushed aside and replaced with Lawrence’s numbers. Good thing for the Tigers is there are many stars on the Clemson offense.
With another test coming up for Lawrence vs. Texas A&M, Etienne’s importance will be amplified in a key game that sets the stage for the rest of Clemson’s season. If Lawrence looks human against the Aggies, it will be vital for Etienne to step up and control the game.
Etienne is an early Heisman Trophy candidate and deservingly so. He is a key part for Clemson’s chances to repeat and shouldn’t be overlooked because of the talented Lawrence beside him.