Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is not known as a prototypical dual-threat quarterback. But this season the sophomore has showed flashes of his improved rushing abilities.
Lawrence finished the regular season with 383 yards on 71 carries and seven touchdowns for an average of 5.4 yards per carry. In the third-ranked Tigers’ 38-3 win over South Carolina this past Saturday, he led the team in rushing with eight carries for 66 yards.
The numbers improved drastically from his freshman season when he totaled 177 yards on 60 carries for 3.0 yards per carry and just one touchdown. Lawrence attributed the uptick in his ground game to an improved understanding of the game in his sophomore season.
“It’s definitely improved a lot since I’ve gotten bigger and faster,” Lawrence said. “I’ve also gotten a better understanding of the game with when to scramble or when to throw the ball downfield.”
In fact, after the game on Saturday co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott told members of the media that he thinks Lawrence’s speed is better than Deshaun Watson’s during his sophomore season at Clemson.
Lawrence looked uneasy with the comparison, but enjoys being able to contribute on the field with his legs. He also grabs extra motivation from the extra collisions.
“I enjoy running until I run a couple in a row and can’t breathe,” he said laughing. “I really enjoy running the ball and it gets me into the game more when I can take a hit to get my blood flowing.”
Clemson’s offensive identity rests on taking what the defense gives it. Lawrence shares that philosophy and his scrambling abilities add another element to the Tigers’ dynamic offensive attack.
His pocket presence and exceptional ability to hurt a team with his arm allows Lawrence to sneak up on defenses with his above average speed and vision when the pocket collapses. It keeps opponents honest and opens up the game for Clemson.
“I think as a defense it’s hard to sit back and cover when I’m not known as a running quarterback,” Lawrence said. “You sit back in coverage and see me scramble then if I get a little bit of an edge, I can beat the corner.”
“The hardest thing for a defense is to defend a quarterback that can run a little bit,” he continued.
Clemson plays in the ACC Championship Game Saturday against No. 22 Virginia at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.
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