Trevor Lawrence’s strength is obviously his right arm, and the Clemson quarterback will always be a passer first.
However, Dabo Swinney believes it’s advantageous for his team when Lawrence keeps defenses honest with his legs like he did in the Tigers’ season-opening 52-14 victory over Georgia Tech on Thursday night.
“He’s not going to be Lamar Jackson,” Clemson’s head coach said after the game. “But he can be really efficient and very dangerous with his legs. He can make plays, and that’s an aspect that if you have to defend that, you can’t just check a box and say OK, that guy’s not going to run, and that’s an advantage. When they have to defend that part of the game — especially with our ability with those other guys around him and the ability to throw the football — that creates an advantage for us we think.”
Lawrence ran for 24 yards on three carries and scored a 6-yard rushing touchdown against the Yellow Jackets while also throwing for 168 yards and a touchdown.
“That’s what we need from him,” Swinney said. “He’s got to make plays when it’s there, and he’s got to extend plays. The one long run he had was just a scramble. Again, they played a lot of coverage. So, he did a nice job creating and extending some plays.”
Lawrence bulked up this offseason and feels he got faster as well. Meanwhile, the mental side of the game has slowed down even more for the sophomore according to Swinney, who says Lawrence has worked hard on his decision-making, not forcing passes when the play isn’t there and knowing when to take off and run.
“Last year, I thought he held the ball a little too much,” Swinney said. “He took a few sacks, he took a few chances. It might’ve been second-and-10 and he had an opportunity to get us 5, 6 yards and make it third-and-3 or whatever and instead it was third-and-10, because he’s just very confident in making some throws. So, just being a little more efficient with his legs is something that we’ve talked a lot about, and you saw that (Thursday). He was outstanding.”
After rushing for 177 yards on 60 attempts last season, Lawrence is more confident in his ability as a runner in year two.
“Just playing games, just having experience, being confident in (the zone read), and also gaining some weight and getting faster,” he said. “I felt like I gained a step from last season, and then just gaining some weight, I felt like I could take some more hits.”
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