Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 21, 2018 at 1:18 am.

Angry Etienne is a good Etienne

Perhaps Clemson running back Travis Etienne should get mad more often.

Etienne was visibly frustrated on the Tigers’ sideline last week against Duke after being held to four yards on five carries — a 0.8-yard per carry average — in the first half.

The second half was a much different story for the sophomore Doak Campbell Award finalist. Etienne averaged 19.25 yards per carry in the second half and finished with 81 yards and two touchdowns.

“If things don’t go exactly how we want them to go early on, we have the ability to respond and go take care of business,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “We scored the first three drives of the second half.”

Etienne, who has 1,157 yards rushing this season, has been the Tigers’ leading scorer as well in 2018, having already matched the school’s single-season touchdown record of 17 with at least three games remaining.

Etienne could pad his total this week as the undefeated and No. 2-ranked Tigers (11-0) play host to rival South Carolina (6-4) Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. Clemson ranks 13th nationally in rushing offense at 247.7 yards per game while the Gamecocks’ run defense allows 192.3 yards per contest, which ranks 93rd among 128 FBS teams.

The Tigers have outrushed their opponent in 21 of 25 games since 2017, winning in each instance. The rushing game just required a bit more time to get untracked last week.

“We’ve had a lot of games where we have the upper hand going into the half,” Scott said. “But that’s not going to be the case as the competition continues to get better.

“We just told them, ‘Hey, let’s find out what we’re made of today.’ There was no reason to be worried about what we didn’t do in the first half. We wanted them to go focus on the second half.”