But what do the coaches want to see from the freshman and the rest of their quarterbacks on Saturday
Dabo Swinney has asked several times this spring for Clemson fans to pack Death Valley this Saturday when it hosts its Orange & White Spring Game at Clemson Memorial Stadium.
And though no one really knows how many fans will actually show up, the school is expecting most of the stadium to be full if for only one reason … it will be the first opportunity for fans to get a look at quarterback Trevor Lawrence in a Clemson uniform.
Lawrence came to Clemson in January with the best credentials any player the program has ever recruited. He was not only the nation’s No. 1 quarterback coming out of Cartersville, Ga., but he was also the country’s No. 1 overall player by some recruiting services in the Class of 2018.
After what fans have heard from the coaches through the first 14 practices, they can’t wait to see what he will do in the spring game.
“The backup quarterback is always the most popular guy on campus,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said with a smile following Wednesday’s practice. “I think with what he was able to accomplish as a high school player, the winning and how he put his team on his back and obviously with the recruiting and how he has lived up to that, I think everybody just wants to see with their own eyes just how good this young man is.”
Though Elliott did not say what team Lawrence will be quarterbacking on Saturday, the Tigers’ offensive coach did say Lawrence will quarterback the same team with Hunter Johnson. Kelly Bryant, Clemson’s first string quarterback, will share snaps with Chase Brice on the other side.
“Obviously, those guys will get opportunities to get equal reps and go out and compete,” Elliott said.
Every year, Swinney splits the players up into two teams so the fans can enjoy the Orange & White Game as a game, instead of a glorified scrimmage like a lot of other schools do. For the coaches, it gives them an opportunity to evaluate how their players, especially their quarterbacks, handle what is almost like a real game situation.
“It’s huge,” Elliott said. “Those guys are not going to be live, but now you add in some other elements where you have the crowd, you have distractions of the crowd and now you have them working with guys they may not have gotten reps with because you are splitting up the teams.
“Now there is new chemistry and cohesion that has to be developed with the offensive line. So you are going to stress those guys the best you can without having an actual game environment.”
Elliot says they want to see their four quarterbacks manage the game and take what is there within the system. With the coaches off the field and with the crowd noise and all of the other factors coming into play from a stress standpoint, they want to see how each quarterback manages it all.
“First and foremost, we just want to see if they are able to go out there and function on their own and see who can put together drives and who can lead the team,” he said.
The Orange & White Game will kick off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be televised by ESPN.