When top-ranked Clemson hosts Virginia Saturday at Death Valley, the Cavaliers are going to be anxious to put on a better showing against the Tigers than they did the last time the two met.
Of course, the last meeting was in the 2019 ACC Championship Game, a game in which Clemson (2-0, 1-0 ACC) got an ACC Championship Game record four touchdown passes from Trevor Lawrence as he threw for 302 yards on 16-of-22 passing with no interceptions.
The end result was a 62-17 Clemson victory.
“Clemson’s really explosive [and] dynamic on the perimeter,” Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall said to the media, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Getting the ball in space and letting their recruits and their athletes have success has been a great model for them not only at quarterback, not only a running back but also wide receivers. So, they have a really good formula that’s worked well for them. We didn’t tackle well in that game.”
The Cavaliers (1-0, 1-0 ACC) hope to make amends in Saturday’s rematch. They used whatever time they could after returning to campus to get better on defense, as they returned nine starters from last year’s Coastal Division Championship team.
They got off to a good start last week, intercepting Duke five times in a 38-20 victory and forcing seven turnovers overall. Former Clemson backup quarterback Chase Brice, who transferred to Duke in the spring, was picked off four times.
Lawrence said he has texted with Brice a little this week about the Blue Devils and he hopes to get a little more information from him when they speak later on. They try to talk on the phone at least a couple of times a month.
As for the Cavaliers defense, Lawrence is well aware of what they did to the Blue Devils.
“Yeah, I watched the tape and that is obviously the first game they played this year, but even just all the games from last year, too, Virginia does a really good job. They stay disciplined,” he said. “They don’t really have many guys out of place. You can tell they are really well coached, and they do a really good job for sure.”
So far, through the first two games, Lawrence has been very 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 Tigers’ win over The Citadel on Sept. 19, 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.
Dating back to last year, Lawrence has now thrown 276 consecutive passes without an interception, the third longest streak in ACC history.
“I think the biggest thing is focusing on us and our game plan and that is staying aggressive. But at the same time, Virginia does a good job of changing up coverages,” the Clemson quarterback said. “They are really disciplined. They don’t give you too much. So, just take what they give you, but also knowing when to take your shots and when to push the ball down the field is really important.”
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