Proud of the way his quarterback bounced back
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When Trevor Lawrence walked over to the sideline after throwing his second interception in the first quarter on Saturday, Dabo Swinney asked him what he was looking at.
When Lawrence told him what he saw, Swinney said, “That was stupid.”
It was that kind of first quarter for Clemson’s star quarterback, who just didn’t look like himself as he completed 3-of-7 passes for 9 yards in the first 15 minutes of Saturday’s game against Louisville.
“He was about as bad in the first quarter as you can be,” Swinney said. “I think that was like negative, negative, negative in whatever your rating is.”
Lawrence’s quarterback rating was actually, minus-3.5 after the first quarter. But it did take long for Lawrence to turn things around. After the first quarter, he completed 17 of his last 20 passes for 224 yards, two touchdowns and more importantly no more interceptions in the second-ranked Tigers’ 45-10 victory at Cardinal Stadium.
“When you play that position, you are going to be judged on how your uniform looks,” Swinney said. “You are going to get judged on everything that you do. There is a certain mental toughness, thick skin and the ability to have that windshield mentality and let it go.
“I have been around players where one bad play is going to lead to five more. You can count on it. But I am really proud of him.”
Lawrence finished the game with 233 yards on 20-of-29 passes and three touchdowns. He would have had a fourth touchdown pass, but the official ruled Tee Higgins did not get his feet down in the end zone and replay upheld the call on the field.
Regardless, it was strong bounce back for the sophomore, who continues to take heat from the media for his interceptions. He has now thrown 8 interceptions on the season, which leads the ACC.
“They were just bad plays. If something happens and the ball gets tipped and the ball gets picked off, it is not really a bad play. But those, I threw right to them. It is definitely something you have to forget about. It happened. You just have to move on,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence moved on by completing all nine of his pass attempts in the second quarter for 156 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Ngata and a 25-yard score to Justyn Ross.
“It is all about how you respond,” Swinney said. “He had four bad plays. I don’t know how many plays we had in the game, but he had four bad plays.
“We can sit around and focus on that or we can focus on all of those good plays. That is what I choose to focus on. We will learn from that. Man! What a job he did for the next three quarters. It was awesome. He ran the ball tough and made good decisions. He got a lot of people involved. I’m really proud of him.”
Lawrence said the first interception was a misread. He was throwing the ball to Amari Rodgers crossing in the middle of the end zone and he did not see the safety playing deep in the middle of the field.
The Clemson quarterback was looking for Higgins on the second interception, which was also intercepted in the end zone.
“I thought we had a chance to go up an make a play on the ball. He got hit right when I threw it. I thought it was PI really, but I still should have made a better decision and checked down,” Lawrence said. “They had eight guys on the play. I should have just checked down to Travis (Etienne) and let him run. I should have done that a few more times today.”
Swinney asked Lawrence what he was doing when he came over to the sideline following the second interception. However, he did not agree with Lawrence’s decisions.
“Yeah, that was stupid. What are you doing? There is no explanation,” Swinney said. “That was just bad football. But what do you say to Brett Favre when he comes off the field when he threw an interception? What do you say to Brett Favre? You don’t have to say anything because they know.”
And the great players know how to bounce back, like Lawrence did on Saturday.
“That is what great players do, and I love that,” Swinney said. “It is about how you respond.”
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