ATLANTA — Trevor Lawrence had a feeling before Saturday’s game at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta it was going to be one of his better games.
And it was.
Clemson’s freshman quarterback threw a career-high four touchdowns, while completing 13-of-18 passes for 176 yards as the second-ranked Tigers steamrolled Georgia Tech with a 49-21 victory.
“It was just cool to go out there and execute,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence did more than execute. He might have taken the job of starting quarterback away from Kelly Bryant, who improved to 16-2 as a starter.
“He certainly played great,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said afterward. “I thought Kelly came back in and did a good job too. But, you know what? We are going to enjoy tonight. That’s what we are going to do.
“We are not going to set a depth chart here in the postgame press conference. We are going to celebrate a win, enjoy it, and as coaches, when we get into the office tomorrow we will evaluate, watch all the tape and go from there. Just like we do every week. So, that is where we are.”
Bryant did not play bad. The senior completed 6-of-10 passes for 56 yards, while running for five. But it was obvious the offense ran more efficient with Lawrence in the game as he led the Tigers on five of their six touchdown drives.
Lawrence says he does not know if he will be the starter or not when the Tigers host Syracuse next week at Death Valley.
“We will see,” he said. “I think Kelly played well, too. I don’t know what is going to happen. I’m just going to keep attacking every week and try to do all I can to help the team.”
Lawrence helped the Tigers (4-0, 1-0 ACC) a lot at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday. With his family and friends watching after driving down from Cartersville, Ga., Lawrence entered the game in the second quarter and jumped started an offense that had just 13 total yards in the first quarter.
He capped a 7-play, 74-yard drive with a 17-yard laser to Hunter Renfrow, it was a play the coaches showed him earlier in the week and gave him the freedom to check to it if he saw what he wanted in coverage.
“If they give us a certain look, I have the freedom to check it to a pass play,” Lawrence said. “I actually checked it and it worked out well.”
Lawrence said he saw man coverage and he knew he had a good look to Renfrow, who was running the corner route.
“It was just smash concepts and Hunter was running the corner waiting for the corner to bite up a little bit more, so I had to squeeze in there a little bit,” the freshman quarterback said.
Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said Lawrence’s throw to Renfrow was a big-time pass and reminded him a lot of Deshaun Watson’s throw to Charone Peake in his first game at Georgia in 2014.
“Number one, you have to be able to identify a check and number two, executing it,” Scott said. “Sprinting out to the left is, obviously, more difficult than sprinting out to the right. I was watching Renfrow the whole time because I knew that’s where the ball should go.
“I saw a guy kind of trailing right on his hip and Trevor put the ball in the only place he could.”
Renfrow told Scott on the sideline there was a player close to tipping it and the ball was away from the guy who was trailing him.
“I always like to keep bringing up checks that kind of remind me of Deshaun’s check against Georgia. That was not a sprint out, but it was still a deep check and then fitting that throw in there,” Scott said. “To see that out of a true freshman, that is really special.”
Lawrence continued to be special against Georgia Tech (1-3, 0-2 ACC). He later threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Justyn Ross, a 3-yard scoring pass to Travis Etienne and another bullet for 30 yards to Tee Higgins for a touchdown.
“He makes good decisions,” Scott said. “Obviously, he is a freshman. He has had a few that he has missed. He is kind of in that ninety-percentile making that right decision. It is rare for a true freshman to be able to see things as quickly and efficiently as he does.
“He definitely showed it right there.”
He showed he might be Clemson’s new starting quarterback.