Lawrence named Most Valuable Offensive Player of the Cotton Bowl
ARLINGTON, Texas — One of the questions heading into Saturday’s Cotton Bowl was how Trevor Lawrence was going to handle being on the big stage for the first time.
Everyone knows the answer now.
The freshman was nearly perfect in leading No. 2 Clemson to a 30-3 victory over third-ranked Notre Dame in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff.
Lawrence completed 27-of-39 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns as he was named the games Most Valuable offensive player.
“That is just what we have seen from Day One, just his ability to throw the football,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “He did a great job of managing it. Obviously, they had a little bit of a different plan on third down which took us a little bit of time to kind of get settled in.
“We had to make some adjustments. We were getting some cover twos so we had to go to some concepts that we had not worked quite as much because all they showed us on film was really cover one, but you have to be prepared for that.”
Lawrence was prepared in the second quarter. After the Tigers (14-0) adjusted, the 6-foot-6, 215-pound freshman found Justyn Ross down the sideline for a 52-yard touchdown pass. He later found Ross again for a 42-yard touchdown and then hit Tee Higgins for a 19-yard touchdown pass.
“He just put the balls where they needed to be, and he just gave our playmakers an opportunity to make plays,” Elliott said.
After throwing for 35 yards on 6-of-11 passes in the first quarter, Lawrence completed 13-of-15 passes for 229 yards and his three touchdowns to Ross and Higgins.
Clemson finished the decisive second-quarter with 261 yards of offense after having just 45 as a team in the first quarter.
“You are going to play the percentages and I thought he did a really good job with those throws over the middle that resulted in touchdowns,” Elliott said. “I thought he did a good job managing his protection and getting himself in good position to get the ball down the field.”
Though others outside the Clemson locker room might have wondered if Lawrence was going to perform on the big stage, the guys in the locker room didn’t.
“That guy is unbelievable,” Higgins said. “Everyone knew that he was confident. I was really proud of Trevor.”
“I think he has been dialed in since he has been the starter,” Higgins continued. “He just looked the same to me, Trevor being Trevor.”