Miami will face perhaps the best offensive duo in college football in Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne this weekend, and it's not overlooking either player.
The Hurricanes, ranked seventh in the Amway Coaches Poll, will have their hands full with the two-headed monster the No. 1 Tigers are boasting when they meet Saturday night in Clemson, South Carolina.
Lawrence has led the Tigers to two national championship games in his first two seasons — winning one of them, in 2018 — and totaled 6,945 passing yards and 66 touchdowns. The junior quarterback also has 848 passing yards and seven touchdowns through his first three games of this season and is the front-runner for the Heisman.
Etienne has accumulated 243 yards on just 39 carries in his first three games and if that wasn't enough, the senior running back also has 172 receiving yards. Etienne's dexterity in the backfield is something Miami defensive coordinator Blake Baker respects about his game.
"Travis Etienne is the premiere running back in all of college football," Baker said this week on a conference call. "He's everything you want in a tailback, he's physical, he's fast, has great change in direction, great balance, great ball skills … he really is the complete package."
Clemson's Travis Etienne (9) is congratulated by Trevor Lawrence after Etienne scored during the third quarter against Virginia on Oct. 3, 2020. (Photo: Ken Ruinard, Greenville News-USA TODAY NETWORK)
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Miami linebacker Zach McCloud is wary of Etienne's ability to evade and run through defenders. When asked what the defense has to do to contain an explosive player like Etienne, McCloud said "just finishing the tackle."
"He's a special talent, as everyone knows and you got to give him credit when it's due," McCloud said. "As a defense, we have to fly to the ball and get him on the ground as soon as we can."
Etienne is widely considered one of the best players in college football, but the terrifying part for the Hurricanes is he may not even be the best player on this offense.
While Lawrence may be the best passer in college football, his mobility is what has the Miami defensive staff's attention.
"He's a problem, that's the best way I can put it," Baker said of Lawrence's running ability. "Once he gets in the open field he's a load to bring down, people probably sleep on that more than anything."
Lawrence has 754 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground during his tenure at Clemson. Lawrence also hasn't thrown an interception since Oct. 19, 2019, when he threw two picks against Louisville.
Hurricanes safety Amari Carter said that it wouldn't mean more to sport Miami's famed turnover chain, the extravagant necklace players wear when they force a turnover, if the defense picked off Lawrence. He understands that Miami enters hostile territory as an underdog, but according to him, it's just another game and the spotlight is right where the Hurricanes belong.
"They're No. 1 for a reason, but we have the right to be here," Carter said.
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