It was just one little hiccup, but it was enough for Trevor Lawrence to find Tee Higgins for a 62-yard gain down the seam, setting up Clemson’s first touchdown in the national champion game last month.
Facing third down-and-14 from his own 21, right at the snap, Lawrence notice the safety in Alabama’s 2-deep scheme froze for about a second when the ball was snapped. Most quarterbacks at the college level would not have seen this mistake, and even if they did there was no way they could make the throw Lawrence did.
But Lawrence immediately noticed the mistake the safety made, and he made him pay by lofting a perfect pass over his head and down the seam to Higgins who carried the ball to the ‘Bama 17-yard line. On the next play, running back Travis Etienne ran off the left side, broke through two-arm tackles and scored a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 14-7 lead at the time.
It’s those kinds of plays, and seeing the field the way that he does, that separates Lawrence from most college quarterbacks.
“He sees the field so well,” Clemson quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter said. “He comes off the field and knows exactly where guys were and why he did it. This is stuff I can’t even see sometimes. I turn on the film and I’m like, ‘dang that is exactly where they were and exactly what he said.’
“That is a gift. That is something you just got. You know? And he has it.”
Lawrence makes several head-scratching plays in every game. Against South Carolina, in the regular-season finale, he rolled to his right to avoid pressure and kept his eyes down the field. He then stopped, looked back across the field and spotted Hunter Renfrow coming open.
He then threw the ball back across his body to the right left hash where he hit Renfrow right between the numbers for an 11-yard gain and a first down.
“It beaks all the possible quarterback rules that you can break,” Streeter said. “It is one of those situations like in basketball. You got a guy shooting a three-pointer that should not be shooting a three-pointer and you are like, ‘NO, NO, NO!’ and then he drains it and you are like, ‘YES!’
“That is the same thing with Trevor. He does things that you necessarily do not coach or teach to do, but he does it, and most of the time he makes those plays. You just don’t see that in most players.”
Streeter knows he has been blessed as a quarterbacks coach because he has seen Lawrence’s kind of ability in one other player he has coached … Deshaun Watson.
“Very similar. There are a lot of things about those two kids that are similar, especially their demeanor, their poise and their ability to see the field,” he said. “Things slow down for them and that is what enables them to make those plays.”
That is what makes them so special.
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