Florida Gators running back Trevor Etienne delivered a career-high performance to lead Florida to an upset victory over the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday night in The Swamp. In the first quarter, Etienne scored a 62-yard touchdown for Florida’s first score of the game. This was the second longest rush of his career, with his longest being an 85-yard touchdown against South Carolina last season.
Etienne had an outstanding game, rushing for a career-high 172 yards on a career-high 23 attempts. This marked his third 100-yard rushing game of his career and the first one in 2023. His previous career high was 129 yards against Florida State last season. Etienne was responsible for six of Florida’s eight explosive plays.
Etienne give thoughts on his and Florida’s performance against Tennessee.
Q. How big was that 62 yard touchdown you think just to the team effort tonight to kind of get things rolling?
TREVOR ETIENNE: I mean, it was a critical point in the game I feel like. I feel like we needed a big play to get the offense going, and it just happened to be me that made the play. And I was just thankful for that. But I felt like that really set the tone of the confidence on our sideline.
Q. 173 yards, a career high. How are you feeling about the performance you had?
TREVOR ETIENNE: I mean, just grateful. I want to give a shout-out to my O-line, first of all. Just thankful for those guys. Like I said earlier in the week, it was going to be a physical game. And they came out and dominated for 60 minutes. And I just want to say thank you. I owe those guys. I have to take them out to dinner or something.
Q. You bounced back big time from the Utah game. You surpassed the first two games. You had more carries tonight than you did in the first two games combined. Yardage, we already covered that. How did you gain your confidence back? How did you come through tonight and possibly the toughest opponent that you guys have faced to this point?
TREVOR ETIENNE: I really just fed off of the energy on the sideline, man. Everybody was amped up for this game. They knew how much it meant to not just us but the Gator Nation, the players that played ahead of us in this game, and just off that energy. It just had everyone fired up.
Q. So you think the fans were a big part of that?
TREVOR ETIENNE: Definitely. Definitely, man. I was standing on the training table trying to hype the fans up one defensive drive, man. I’m just thankful for those guys.
Q. How special is it to get your first SEC win here in The Swamp when it was sold out tonight?
TREVOR ETIENNE: I mean, it means a lot. Sold out, packed Swamp. It doesn’t get any better than this. I feel like The Swamp is the best stadium to play in in the SEC.
Q. On the touchdown run, you kind of bump into their corner back and you’ve got a step on him. Talk about blowing by him. You kind of had that look like he ain’t going to catch me.
TREVOR ETIENNE: No, man. I had the end zone in my eyesight, and I was going to do anything to get there.
Q. Would you talk also about — you know, so many times there on third down, you make a tough gain and you’re breaking tackles, et cetera, like that. Were you just super motivated tonight or something?
TREVOR ETIENNE: Definitely. I knew this game was going to be physical, and we were going to have to play hard. And I wanted to keep our offense out of those tough play calling downs, keep us from being backed up. Running backs, we had to run the ball hard. So that was our goal each and every play.
Q. As a running back room after the Utah game, what were the conversations like, just about maybe frustration or the need to get the run game knowing? And now I guess how relieving is it? You’ve had two games back to back where you guys were great on the ground.
TREVOR ETIENNE: Coming from the Utah game, we didn’t really touch the ball that much. But the way we took it was how can we affect the game without the ball? How can we be a threat without the ball? We didn’t try to focus on so much that we didn’t get the ball. We just tried to worry on being the best teammate we could be without the ball.
Q. So 7 of 8 on third down in the first half. I think you came into the game 6 of 19 on the season. Is that like — is that how this offense, how efficient this offense can be? It was pretty flawless at that point.
TREVOR ETIENNE: I mean, definitely. I feel like this team we saw tonight in the first half, I mean, when we’re playing like that, we’re a really great team. We just have to be consistent and keep being that team week in and week out.
Q. Good answer to a bad question.
Q. Trevor, a couple questions. First off, Coach Napier last week talked about the preparation Sunday through Saturday. How did that match the effort tonight, first off?
TREVOR ETIENNE: I mean, I’m sure you seen it out there. Guys were amped up. They knew how much this game meant and just focused on the details in practice and walk throughs and taking advantage of every situation that coach puts us through in those practice settings, it just prepares us for the game.
Q. Second question, are you going to be in Jacksonville tomorrow?
TREVOR ETIENNE: No. I have to lift at 4 tomorrow, so it’s kind of challenging balancing.
Q. Trevor, can you just talk about — obviously, last week, you, Montrell, Trevaun all got pretty equal workload. Did you know coming into the game that you were going to kind of be the lead back this week?
TREVOR ETIENNE: No. I had no idea. It was shocking to me. I mean, I’m just thankful for those guys too because even though it was me in the game most of the time, they were still pushing me, still encouraging me, still giving me tips when I came off the field. So I’m just thankful to have those guys in my circle.
Q. Both Billy and Graham spoke about how in the second half you guys have a big lead, maybe playing more conservatively. You know then you’re going to be featured a little bit more. Is there something you’re doing at halftime knowing that they’re expecting the run a little bit more or, you know, you just pretty much follow the same strategy in the second half?
TREVOR ETIENNE: Definitely. I knew we were going to run the ball a little more. So the main thing we talked is with the running back group, we were just focused on protecting the ball. Don’t have any lazy turnovers, any dumb turnovers.
Q. I know you said you’re not going to be in Jacksonville tomorrow, but do you and your brother critique each other and talk several times during the week and maybe you give him tips and he gives you tips?
TREVOR ETIENNE: Definitely. I’m going to have to call him after this. I’m sure he has some plays he wants to talk about. It’s never enough. I never done anything right. And I’m the same with him. I try to stay on him, just week in and week out.
Q. (No microphone.) Performance of Eugene Wilson
TREVOR ETIENNE: Man, I said early in the week, he looked like he’s been here before and just the way he was making it look easy. That kid is special.