Lawrence earned the right to start Saturday’s game
Though Trevor Lawrence was named second-ranked Clemson’s starting quarterback on Monday, head coach Dabo Swinney says Kelly Bryant will play in Saturday’s game against Syracuse at Death Valley.
“Kelly has not done anything wrong. Kelly has played well,” Swinney said on his weekly call-in show Monday night.
Bryant has started Clemson’s last 18 games, while compiling a 16-2 record as a starter. He has led the Tigers to an ACC Championship and was voted as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
This year, the senior has completed 36-of-54 passes (66.7 percent) for 461 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He has also rushed for another 130 yards and scored two more touchdowns, while averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
“He has had four good games. He has done a lot of great things,” Swinney said.
Though Bryant has played well, Lawrence has played better. Swinney said the freshman has earned the opportunity to start the game based on the data and productivity Lawrence has had in the first four games.
The Cartersville, Ga., native has a passer rating of 191.8. He has completed 39-of-60 passes (65 percent) for 600 yards. He has thrown nine touchdown passes and has just two interceptions thus far.
Against Georgia Tech this past Saturday, Lawrence completed 13-of-18 throws for 176 yards and four touchdowns in the Tigers’ 28-point victory in Atlanta.
Swinney said making the decision to start Lawrence over Bryant was no different than how they came out of fall camp with Bryant as the starter.
“Coming out of camp, it was all data driven,” he said. “We graded everything. We graded how they walked down the hall. We graded everything. It was close, but Kelly came out on top and he earned the opportunity to start, but Trevor earned the opportunity to play.
“That is really where we are now. I don’t really see much difference other than Trevor has just succeeded. Kelly has done well, but Trevor has just exceeded that when you look at the sheer data. Now, it is just kind of the opposite.”
Swinney made it clear that Lawrence does not have an eight-game contract to be the Tigers’ starter.
“He has to play well,” the Clemson coach said. “It’s not like we don’t have a guy in Kelly Bryant who we don’t trust, who we don’t believe in, who we don’t think we can go win at all with, because we do.
“That’s where we are this week and we certainly know (Bryant) can continue to help our team and we will find ways to make sure that happens. I’m excited for Trevor and this opportunity for him and we will see what happens as we keep moving forward. I’m proud of both of those guys.”