When Clemson co-offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott took over in December of 2014 they put an emphasis on having an offense capable of producing answers no matter what is thrown its way.
Perhaps now more so than at any point in Clemson history the Tigers have an offense capable of doing that.
Sit back and play coverage? Clemson will cycle in its plethora of running backs, led by Travis Etienne, to run behind its strong offensive line.
Load the box and try to force the passing game to beat you? Trevor Lawrence and Clemson’s talented group of receivers will pick you apart.
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“I think that’s what we’ve tried to build, Jeff and myself over the last four years, is just an offense that can take advantage of what’s available. I think we’ve done that in the past, and what is comforting to see for these guys is now they can understand the identity of what we’ve been in the past, an offense that’s going to take what’s available,” Elliott said. “If we need to run it we can run it. If we need to throw it we can throw it. And if somebody’s dead set on taking something away then we’ve got to take what’s available.”
Having a versatile offense isn’t new for Clemson. The Tigers have been capable of winning games in different ways for years with Tajh Boyd, Deshaun Watson and Kelly Bryant at quarterback.
But this offense in particular has displayed an incredible amount of balance as Clemson has gotten off to a 7-0 start.
The Tigers are averaging 254 rushing yards and 269 passing yards per game entering Saturday’s showdown with Florida State.
Clemson has not had an offense average more than 250 rushing yards and passing yards in the same season ever. The Tigers have not averaged 250 rushing yards in a season since 1992.
“We’re one of the only teams out there that I think is as balanced as we are running and throwing. We’re in a good place,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
Etienne already has 800 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, while Lawrence appears more and more comfortable each week.
Clemson rushed for 471 yards in a 63-3 win at Wake Forest on Oct. 6. The Tigers faced an undefeated N.C. State team two weeks later after a bye, and the Wolfpack stacked the box to try to stop the run.
Clemson responded with 380 passing yards, its most since last November against The Citadel, in a 41-7 win.
“We’ve got answers,” Elliott said. “We’ve got things built in and depending upon how they want to defend us we’ve got to take advantage of what is given. I think that’s a sign of a good offense that’s starting to click on all cylinders.”
As Lawrence, who is only a freshman, continues to get more and more comfortable leading the offense, the success should only continue.
“We have a really high ceiling. It’s going to be cool every week to get better and reach our potential,” Lawrence said. “We’ve known what we have as far as throwing the ball and receivers and everything since fall camp, but I think we’re showing everyone else that we can run the ball really well when we need to and we can also throw and catch.”