When Clemson played second-ranked Notre Dame on Nov. 7, Trevor Lawrence watched the game from the sideline.
The junior was forced to sit out the game as he finished up protocols after testing positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 29. It was a hard pill to swallow for a guy who will likely be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft next April.
Lawrence watched as Notre Dame’s Ian Book, who is 30-3 as a starter, barely outdueled freshman D.J. Uiagalelei, who threw for 439 yards and two touchdowns on 29-of-44 passing, while also running for a score. Clemson’s true freshman was magnificent. He did not turn the football over the entire night and had the Tigers in position to win the game twice.
“D.J. was amazing, obviously,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
But considering Uiagalelei was little more limited with the playbook, and the fact he was still nursing a sore shoulder and was not involved in the running game at all, it is hard not to imagine what numbers Lawrence would have put up had he played in the game.
No one will ever know, but Lawrence will at least get an opportunity to prove what he can do against Notre Dame when he and the Tigers face the Irish for a second time a week from Saturday in the 2020 ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
As he should, Swinney feels good about Lawrence’s chances in the ACC title game.
“I just think he is a veteran guy,” the Clemson coach said. “This is a guy that has won 33 games as the starting quarterback, so I think that his overall experience and just overall knowledge is just little bit of a different level, as it should be from a guy making his first ever road start and second career start as a freshman. But (Uiagalelei) certainly played a great game.”
Lawrence is 33-1 as a starting quarterback, dating back to his freshman year when he took over for Kelly Bryant in the fifth game. The only loss for the Cartersville, Ga., native came in last year’s national championship game against LSU.
“I just think Trevor brings a veteran presence. You just can’t coach that,” Swinney said. “You have to kind of put the work in to get to that point, so that is it. D.J. can throw the ball with anybody. Hopefully, Trevor will be able to just bring out the best in us, in all aspects.”
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