Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines two plays from Clemson RB Travis Etienne’s monster night against Georgia Tech that reveal a weakness in his game that was also evident in 2018 and something he can address to become an even better NFL prospect.
C.J. Spiller, David Johnson, Darrell Henderson, C.J. Prosise, and Rashaad Penny are all athletically gifted running backs with early-round NFL pedigrees. They all needed to learn how to read pre-snap and post-snap keys and set up blocks with zone plays.
One of the things I noticed about Travis Etienne’s game while studying his 2018 tape was a lack of patience when running to the edge of the offensive line. He wasn’t strong at setting up blocks off-tackle. I made a note of this because I didn’t see enough exposures to pinpoint any potential pattern.
The 2019 opener against Georgia Tech clarified the issue. Despite gaining 205 yards and 3 touchdowns on 12 carries, there were a pair of plays that were more important to Etienne’s scouting report than what I’ve hurt from the general public about his glossy performance.
Etienne had a great game and he’s a fine prospect. However, he must refine his skills with outside zone, off-tackle zone, counter, and other plays where he must read the defense and set up blocks with greater patience than he’s shown thus far.
Otherwise, he’ll have a longer learning curve in the NFL than many will expect.
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