No one has been happier to see his defense continue to make goal-line stops than quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
After watching his defense pick him up and keep Georgia Tech out of the end zone after throwing an interception that set the Yellow Jackets up at the 1-yard line in the season opener, his defense again bailed him out in top-ranked Clemson’s 41-6 victory at Syracuse Saturday night.
Against Syracuse, the Tigers’ defense had goal-line like stops after two Lawrence interceptions set the Orange up at the Clemson 9- and 3-yard line.
“They have played phenomenal these past three weeks. They have done such a good job,” Lawrence said after the win over Syracuse. “The whole rhetoric was how we lost so much on defense and we are going to struggle, and they have played great. I am really proud of them.”
With Clemson leading 17-6 early in the third quarter, Lawrence threw an interception while trying to hit Tee Higgins on a back-shoulder fade near the sideline. Syracuse’s Christopher Frederick returned the football to the Clemson 9. It looked like the Orange had all the momentum and was going to cut into the Tigers’ lead.
That did not happen.
On the very next play, the Tigers’ pressure, which sacked Tommy DeVito eight times, forced the Syracuse quarterback to run right. DeVito never saw Mario Goodrich and threw the ball right to the Clemson cornerback, who picked the ball off at the four.
Following Amari Rodgers’ impressive catch-and-run for an 87-yard touchdown, Lawrence threw a second interception to linebacker Trill Williams, who returned it 41 yards to the Clemson 3-yard line. However, Isaiah Simmons and the Clemson defense stood tall again and denied the Orange the end zone on four plays.
“Our defense, instead of hanging their heads … we put then in two tough situations right there on the goal line and they came out and had two huge stops,” Lawrence said. “That builds a lot of good things on our team and seeing our defense do that is awesome.”
Clemson’s defense had 15 tackles for loss to go with the 8 sacks, held Syracuse to 15 rushing yards and allowed just 187 yards overall. The Orange had just 51 yards of total offense in the second half.
“Anytime you go up against Coach (Brent) Venables and our defense, you have to be ready,” Lawrence said. “They just do so many different things and they are so well coached.”
Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott says having the defense play the way it has in the first three games, is allowing the offense to find its way and not panic, especially when they struggle to find consistency like they did on Saturday night.
“It was huge for them and I know it gives them a lot of confidence going forward, too,” he said.
“I see it every single day. So, hopefully, when I say Brent is the best in the country and the reason Jeff and I and this offense has had success is because we see that every day in practice,” he continued. “He is going to find a way to find a weakness in an offense and that gives us confidence and the poise to make adjustments as the game goes along.”
And it makes Trevor Lawrence breathe a little easier knowing they have his back.
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