Clemson players were a little surprised when they heard the news Monday that the Tigers made a change at the quarterback position.
Head coach Dabo Swinney announced Monday morning that freshman Trevor Lawrence will be make his first career start over senior Kelly Bryant Saturday when the Tigers host Syracuse at Death Valley.
Bryant has been No. 2 Clemson’s starting quarterback for the previous 18 games, posting a 16-2 record (.888 win percentage) as a starter. He led the Tigers to a third straight ACC Championship last year and was named the MVP of the ACC Championship Game.
“There was a change at quarterback,” running back Travis Etienne asked with a surprised look on his fast. “Well, we have been having a rotation all season, so he is going to step in there and go in first, I guess. Nothing has changed. We are going to keep preparing the same way and keep rolling.”
The Tigers (4-0, 1-0 ACC) rolled pretty good in last Saturday’s win at Georgia Tech when Lawrence was running the offense.
The Cartersville, Ga., native led Clemson to five touchdowns on the six drives he engineered as the Tigers scored a team-record 49-points at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. Lawrence completed 13-of-18 passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns in those six drives.
“I’m happy for him,” wide receiver Amari Rodgers said. “He’s been working his tail off since he got here. I am happy to see that it is paying off for him. He’s been doing really good for us, Kelly has too. They both have.”
“We’re undefeated right now, so that’s a credit to both of them.”
Through four games, Lawrence has completed 65-percent of his 60 passes (39-of-60) for 600 yards. He has thrown nine touchdowns to just two interceptions. He has a passer rating of 191.83
Bryant has completed 36-of-54 passes (66.7 percent) for 461 yards with just two touchdowns and one interception. However, he has a passer rating of 146.8.
“It just came down to you got to award productivity,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “If you look at his opportunities, he has taken advantage of them.”
All-ACC center Justin Falcinelli said the team understands why Swinney made the change and he feels Bryant understands it too, and he will handle the situation fine.
“Kelly understands how we do things,” Facinelli said. “He knows how we do things. He knows what to expect. He knows it. He is a great guy. We love them both. I don’t care who is back there. I know they both can get the job done, so whoever is there first, it does not matter. They are both still good.”
Clemson will kick off with Syracuse at noon. The game will be televised by ABC.