Clemson’s postseason journey begins Saturday in Charlotte, and while the Tigers will play for their fourth straight ACC Championship Trophy, they’ll arrive in the Queen City with some already-earned hardware.
Tigers running back Travis Etienne earned ACC Offensive and Overall Player of the Year honors on Wednesday, becoming the first Clemson player honored since QB Deshaun Watson in 2015, and fourth in the last ten years (QB Tajh Boyd-2012, RB CJ Spiller-2009).
Etienne’s 1,307 yards rank as the most in the conference, and the fourth-highest in school history, while his 19 rushing touchdowns also top the conference and sit him with the second most in the country.
The sophomore from Jennings, Louisiana has stood out among a multi-headed monster with Clemson’s running attack, as running backs Tavien Feaster, Adam Choice and Lyn-J Dixon have all gotten their share of the spoils.
Entering his second straight ACC Championship Game, Etienne is more than happy to deflect the credit where he believes it’s deserved:
RB Travis Etienne
One of the people Etienne credits mostly is the anchor of Clemson’s offensive line, left tackle Mitch Hyatt, who won the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Award Trophy for the second consecutive season.
Hyatt came back to Clemson after testing the waters of the NFL Draft and continues to set longevity marks at Clemson such as most snaps played (3,573), and most career starts (54).
He believes his return has a purpose which will fulfill itself as the games begin to have more meaning as the postseason begins:
LT Mitch Hyatt
While Clemson’s offense put up historic numbers through 12 games, the Tigers’ usually reliable defense hit a thud on Saturday against South Carolina.
The Gamecocks exposed the Tigers’ secondary to the tune of 600 total yards, including 510 through the air, both season highs for yards allowed by Clemson.
South Carolina also averaged 8.1 yards-per-play against Clemson, more than any team against the Tigers this season and more than double the average of seven of the Tigers’ previous 11 opponents.
Clemson safeties Tanner Muse and Denzel Johnson believe the breakdowns were limited to just a handful of plays, and South Carolina’s unique game plan made certain assignments hard to follow as they weren’t prepared for them.
Both Muse and Johnson expect rectify those mistakes for the postseason:
DB Tanner Muse
DB Denzel Johnson
Clemson meets Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday night at 8 PM on ABC.