When it comes to Trevor Lawrence’s ability to run the football, Ohio State has learned its lesson.
“Just being cautious of where he’s at on the field and what he’s doing. He’s a great player and we’re going to need to be aware that he can extend plays,” Ohio State defensive tackle Haskell Garrett said. “If a play is broken down and there is good coverage, he’s going to want to do it on his feet. So, we just have to be aware of where he’s at, at all times.”
The third-ranked Buckeyes, who will face No. 2 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl on Friday, lost track of Lawrence in last year’s Fiesta Bowl. The Clemson quarterback ran for 107 yards, pacing the Tigers to a 29-23 come-from-behind victory. Lawrence had a 67-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that cut what was once a 16-0 lead for Ohio State to 16-14.
It was the game-changing play the Clemson offense needed, after struggling for much of the first half.
“It’s going to be a big challenge. He’s a dynamic quarterback,” Garrett said. “Usually, guys who are that tall and that big don’t really run, but like we know, the game is changing. Quarterbacks are becoming dual threats. He can do it in the air and do it on the ground.”
Lawrence is coming off an MVP performance in the Tigers’ 34-10 win over Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game. The Cartersville, Ga., native rushed for 90 yards on 14 carries, including a 34-yard touchdown run, while also throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns.
“We just have to play our game,” Garrett said. “In the offseason, we really focused on stopping the run and we’ve prided ourselves on it. I feel that if we play our game and play to our abilities and make sure we all do our jobs, stuff like that won’t happen.”
The Buckeyes (6-0) rank seventh in the country at stopping the run, allowing just 96.7 yards per game. But with Clemson now featuring Lawrence more in the running game, it opens up things for Clemson’s All-American all-purpose back, Travis Etienne.
The senior running back rushed for 124 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown in the second quarter against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship. This after he was held to 28 rushing yards in a loss to the Irish on Nov. 7, a game that had Lawrence standing on the sideline due to COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s just his vision. His ability to see an open gap and hit it,” Garrett said. “His ability to run downhill. He’s a very hard runner, and he’s fast. We’ve got a great challenge in front of us, and it’s going to be a good game.”