Manny Diaz discusses challenges of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne

Aug 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Head coach Manny Diaz discussed the challenge for the Miami defense to stop Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne when the teams play Saturday night.

During his weekly appearance on the Joe Rose Show on Monday morning, Miami head coach Manny Diaz spoke about the challenge of the Hurricanes stopping Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne. Lawrence and Etienne are the best QB/RB tandem in college football.

Lawrence is the top-rated QB by Pro Football Focus and Etienne is their 21st rated RB. Lawrence is fifth nationally in passer rating and Etienne is 10th averaging 138.3 yards from scrimmage per game. Clemson players are experienced in games involving top 10 teams. This will be the first for most Miami players.

Manny Diaz told Rose and co-host Zack Krantz that Lawrence can hurt them running the football as well. Lawrence will not run for as many yards as Miami QB D’Eriq King, but he does have three rushing TDs this season. Getting Lawrence to the ground can be a difficult task. The Miami defenders have to wrap Lawrence up.

Miami edge rushers Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche should be able to pressure Lawrence. Clemson is 31st nationally out of 74 teams allowing 14 tackles for loss and 39th allowing six sacks. Pressuring Lawrence will give Miami a better chance to win, but he hasn’t thrown an interception since October 2019 against Louisville.

"“When you really look and see the damage he does with his feet—he can run and he is fast…He is tall and he has these long strides. He is hard to sack. You will see defenders get back there and bounce off him because he is a big guy. He is able to get out of stuff.There is quarterbacks that are statues that have a good arm and can make things happen, but he can scramble and in the red-zone they will use him as a runner. He will put his shoulder down and try to run over defensive backs, which is very impressive.”"

Clemson is a well balanced team offensively that has been using Etienne as a receiver move than ever before. Etienne set career highs with 37 receptions for 432 yards and four TDs in 2019. Through three games in 2020, Etienne has nine receptions for 172 yards and one TD. Miami has to be aware of where Etienne lines up.

"“Travis Etienne may be the best player in college football. He is so dynamic. His explosiveness, his start-stop, his ability to run through tackles. Virginia was dominated on third down by him.I think Clemson converted three or four third down and ten or mores and a lot of times it was just getting the ball to him and letting him do some things to get the distance he needed to get.”"

Clemson was eight for 15 on third down against Virginia. Four of the Tigers eight third down conversions were to Etienne via both the pass and the run. Etienne is their go to player. Against Virginia Etienne had 17 carries for 73 yards rushing and one TD and five receptions for 114 yards and one TD receieving.

Miami safety Bubba Bolden game planned by Clemson. dark. Next

Miami has to contain Etienne. Clemson will be the most talented and potent offense Miami has faced since they lost to the Tigers in the 2017 ACC Championship Game. Etienne was a freshman on that Clemson team and Lawrence was still in high school. Clemson has more talent offensively than when they defeated Miami in 2017.