This time last year, everyone was wondering what was wrong with Trevor Lawrence. And it was with good reason.
After a sensational freshman campaign, a year in which he became the first true freshman to lead his team to a national championship since 1985, Lawrence struggled early in 2019. In the first two games, the Clemson quarterback threw three interceptions to just two touchdowns, while completing 63.8 percent of his passes for 436 yards.
Eventually, Lawrence regrouped and by mid-season he was back to his more efficient self, finishing the year with 36 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. The Cartersville, Ga., native went the last eight games of 2019 without throwing an interception.
So far, through the first two games, Lawrence has continued to be efficient. Actually, he is playing better than he ever has.
After the first two weeks, the junior has completed 30-of-37 passes for 519 yards and four touchdowns and more importantly no interceptions. He is completing 81.1 percent of his passes.
In the top-ranked Tigers’ 49-0 victory over The Citadel on Saturday, Lawrence completed 8-of-9 passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns, while also running for another score. The only incompletion was a drop from wide receiver Amari Rodgers on his first pass of the game.
“I think every year is different. But I just think my mindset and my focus level and just the little details of the game are a lot better now than they were,” Lawrence said. “I think I have gotten a lot smarter, but I have also simplified the game. I am not trying to do too much. I am just taking what is there. I am not trying to make every play a home-run play.
“I am moving the ball more consistently. That is one of my goals and I think that we are doing that, but for me it was just going back to the basics and taking whatever the defense gives me.”
No matter what look The Citadel was giving him on Saturday, Lawrence made them pay. His first touchdown was a rocket he threw just past a Bulldog defender for a 17-yard touchdown to Frank Ladson. He followed that up by dropping a dime into Rodgers’ arms for a 44-yard score.
He later found Ladson again, this time floating a perfect bomb down the near sideline for a 54-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. According to former Clemson Sports Information Director Tim Bourret, Lawrence’s 355.7 pass efficiency rating on Saturday would have been the best in history by Clemson quarterback but he did not have the minimum of 15 attempts to qualify.
What is the difference this year in the Clemson quarterback? Did he change his mechanics or anything like that in the off-season?
“Just getting a lot of reps mostly. That is the main thing,” Lawrence said. “As far as motions, I haven’t really changed anything. I always try to keep the ball higher because I tend to drop it a little bit. But that is something I have been trying to do, is keep it up. Other than that, footwork stuff. I mentioned I changed a little bit in the off-season, but as far as motions, just getting reps and working a lot this off-season with our receivers.
“Just having that time where we did not necessarily have workouts because of all the coronavirus stuff, but a few of us guys were able to get together and get the timing down. It was me just being able to get the reps in and make sure I’m hitting my spots. Then in camp we did a good job taking advantage of the time that we had and really made every rep like game reps and I think we practiced really well. You are seeing that on the field, last week and now this week too.”
Dating back to last year, Lawrence has now thrown 276 consecutive passes without an interception, the third longest streak in ACC history.
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