SAN JOSE, Calif. — When Dabo Swinney named Trevor Lawrence Clemson’s starting quarterback the Monday prior to the Syracuse game, ESPN sideline reporter and College GameDay co-host Maria Taylor questioned Swinney’s move.
In fact, she said Clemson was not a better team without Kelly Bryant on its roster.
Lawrence proved her wrong. The true freshman threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns, including 8-of-11 passing for 240 yards on third down in the Tigers’ 44-16 rout of Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game Monday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Lawrence is the first true freshman in 33 years to lead his team to a national championship. He was 11-0 as a starter and in each of the last 10 games, Clemson won by 20 or more points.
Back in September, Taylor admitted she understood what Swinney was doing and what his motivation was in making the change at quarterback.
“From what I have seen, and correct me if I am wrong,” Taylor said on ESPN’s Get Up show at the time, Trevor Lawrence has not necessarily earned the starting role, I think Dabo Swinney has decided in September that he wants to beat Alabama in the College Football Playoff or in the national championship and in order to do that the ceiling has to be raised and the guy he thinks can do that is Trevor Lawrence.
“But when we had the Texas A&M game, I was on the sideline for that. He started Trevor Lawrence in the second half. He couldn’t move the ball, Kelly Bryant came in and he had two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the third quarter and put his team up 15 points. He is the reason Clemson walked out of there with a win and is still alive in the College Football Playoff.”
Taylor even talked a little trash as she raised her arm in a defensive like way and said Lawrence’s nine touchdowns passes at that point came against Furman, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. She conveniently forgot about the long touchdown pass he threw to Tee Higgins on his first play against Texas A&M.
Though Taylor’s allegiance to Bryant, who left the Clemson program after he learned the news he would not start against Syracuse, was obvious, in the end Lawrence threw a combined six touchdown passes and 674 yards against Notre Dame and Alabama, who had two of the best defenses in college football.
It was obvious then and especially now, Dabo Swinney made the right call.