Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea says the goal for his defense, just like in any game, is to get after the quarterback the best that they can.
However, when he has watched Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence play, he has noticed he isn’t like most quarterbacks. Most talk about how Lawrence isn’t like a lot of freshmen that are first-year starters, but Lea feels he isn’t like most quarterbacks in general.
“I don’t see him as a guy that loses his composure often,” Lea said. “I see him as a guy that is very steady and is very comfortable. So, we have our work cut out for us.”
Notre Dame, who will play Clemson in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 as part of the College Football Playoff Semifinals, has already played a couple of freshman quarterbacks. The Irish faced off against USC’s J.T. Daniels, Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman and Syracuse’s Tommy Devito.
However, none of those guys have stacked up to the performance and the mentality of which Lawrence has played with in playing in all 13 games for Clemson and starting the last nine.
Lawrence was named the ACC Rookie of the Year after he threw for 2,606 yards, while completing 65 percent of his passes. In 326 pass attempts, he has thrown just four interceptions and has thrown a Clemson freshman record 24 touchdown passes, which leads the ACC.
He also leads the ACC in pass efficiency at 154.02.
Boston College got after Lawrence early in the game, but the true freshman bounced back to throw for 295 yards on 29-of-40 passing, while running for one score and throwing for another.
“He is a young quarterback and he is extremely talented,” Lea said. “I think he, through the course of his time being the starter, has really strengthened his game. It is going to be a challenge.”
Notre Dame has one of the best passing defenses in the country. The Irish have allowed just 198 yards a game through the air, while also limiting the big plays.
They have given up just one touchdown pass longer than 20 yards all season. Clemson has 32 pass plays, most of which are touchdowns from Lawrence to either Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross and Amari Rodgers, of 40 or more yards.
“I think anytime we go into a game we are looking for ways to be disruptive to the quarterbacks because that is where things start, and this game will be no different in that way.”
Clemson and Notre Dame will kickoff from AT&T Stadium at 4 p.m., eastern time, on Dec. 29. The game will be televised by ESPN.