Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence spoke with the media Tuesday afternoon to talk about No. 4 Clemson’s loss to Pitt and to preview Saturday’s game against Wake Forest.
The true freshman had a solid performance against Pittsburgh with 6 tackles, a blocked field goal attempt, and a fumble recovery.
Question: You had quite a birthday performance the other day. Obviously it didn’t end up the way you wanted, but have you ever had a performance quite like that on your birthday?
Lawrence: “I can’t say I have. In high school I had a Friday night birthday, but it didn’t mean as much as this one. It was a big game, my senior night also. It was a good performance but I properly could have done a little more.”
Question: You blocked a couple kicks this season, I think you had some in high school as well, but how have you perfected and cultivated that skill over the years?
Lawrence: “I just try to know that that one point can count. I know that I can have an effect on that play or down.”
Question: Do you enjoy taking on that role of playing on special teams as well as defense?
Lawrence: “Definitely. Special teams is a big part of the game.”
Question: For all the good things that y’all have done defensively this year, when you look at the film from this past Saturday, what were your thoughts?
Lawrence: “We definitely could’ve been more discipline, just knowing and reading our keys a little better. Actually just making a tackle also, that was big.”
Question: Is it going to be particularly special playing in your home state this weekend in front of family and friends?
Lawrence: “Yeah, I haven’t played in my home state yet so it’s going to be very big. A lot of friends will be there supporting me so it’ll be great.”
Question: How close were you on getting that final field goal?
Lawrence: “I definitely was close. I mean, that was the biggest one of all. I just couldn’t get it. He got it up in the air that time. That was good on his part.”
Question: We’ve seen the Vanderbilt guy do it and the Denver Bronco do it this week where they jump the line. Are you ever going to do that?
Lawrence: “That’s a good question. I actually thought about it this weekend, if I could. But, that’s not my role.”
Question: Was there a different sense when you went to the practice field this Monday?
Lawrence: “Well, we didn’t play the song ‘Another One Bites the Dust,’ but there wasn’t too much of a difference. Everybody kind of got over it, we know what we need to do to move on and play the next game. This week it’s Wake Forest, so that pretty much what we focus on.”
Question: Coach Swinney said there was an edge to the sense of urgency that he noticed in practice. What was your perception of that?
Lawrence: “Everybody was definitely more focused, moving a little faster, even though we played a lot of snaps Saturday. I feel like the loss just woke us up a little more, made us a little more humble as a team.”
Question: With Scott Pagano being out, what do feel like you guys as the defensive tackle group have to do to step up and fill his void?
Lawrence: “We definitely all have a bigger role to fulfill. Scott is a great guy, hope he comes back quick. But, it happens so we just have to prepare without him right now and just keep moving on.
Question: When did you become aware of Michigan and Washington losing on Saturday night and did that give you new hope?
Lawrence: “Yeah I was with my family, we were watching both games and I couldn’t believe it honestly. A lot of upsets happened that night. I guess it’ll help us out in the long run but we aren’t paying too much attention to it right now.”
Question: Obviously you have come in and made an immediate impact. How do you feel about how your freshman season is going so far?
Lawrence: “Pretty good so far. A lot of people can’t say they’ve played as a freshman or had this opportunity so I’m just thankful for that. Being able to have the role on this team that I have, I feel special. It feels good to me to keep fulfilling each and every week, going out and playing my hardest and giving it all I got.”
Question: Do you see the national stuff where some people are calling you the top freshman of the country?
Lawrence: “I’ve seen it a couple of times, but that’s not too much of my focus right now. I’m focused on my team but it feels good to see that people are seeing my work and seeing the effort that I out there on the field.”
Question: Obviously you’ve come in and made an immediate impact early in the year, but how much do you feel like you’ve grown from then to now?
Lawrence: “I feel like I’ve definitely gotten smarter. That’s what I wanted to work on the most coming into college, getting smarter and reading blocks faster. I feel like I improved a lot in that sense of football. Just the knowledge that I have being around the guys, Carlos, Christian, and Scott, they’re helping me out, reading blocks and things like that.”
Question: How did your first collegiate loss feel?
Lawrence: “It hurt. It hurt because it was senior night and also my birthday. But, you win some, you lose some. You just have to come back stronger. We just have to prove ourselves.”
Question: How curious are you to see where Clemson ends up in the poll tonight?
Lawrence: “It’ll be interesting. A lot of things happened that I didn’t expect to happen on Saturday. But, it’s all up to them. We can’t control any of that stuff.”