Photo by © Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Clemson Football

Lawrence has the keys, Option test passed

September 27, 2018
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What a couple of days we've had at the CST headquarters. First off, Clemson looked very much like the No. 2 team in the country with a dominant 49-21 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday in Atlanta as Trevor Lawrence delivered the best performance of his short career. 

Then on Monday Lawrence was named the starter for the Syracuse game, only to learn that Kelly Bryant didn't practice on Monday. Swinney explained the absence on Tuesday, but after a second missed practice, Wednesday it was soon announced that Bryant had decided to transfer.

Welcome to college football in 2018. 

Three weeks ago, Bryant was delivering Clemson to a 28-26 win in College Station. Now he's looking for a new place to continue his career. Say that three times.

Here are the three things that stood out to our intern Brandon Stockdale who covers Clemson football for The Tiger.

Lawrence sparks the offense, shoulders more pressure

Was Trevor Lawrence’s return to his home state a coming out party or what? Lawrence's ability to spread the ball around on Saturday took Clemson's offense to the next level.

Following the evaluation of his performance, Lawrence was named the starter, putting in place a sequence of events no one could have expected. Ultimately, Kelly Bryant decided to leave the team and now Clemson's offense will be guided by Lawrence and his backup, Chase Brice.

I had an opportunity to be on with SiriusXM last Friday, as Clemson headed into Atlanta. One of the things I said was that the Tigers had to avoid the slow starts that have plagued them this season. Bryant failed to produce early in the contest, giving Lawrence the chance to snatch the throne-- and that's what he did.

Trevor Lawrence entered the game on Clemson’s third series and the Cartersville, GA native provided a spark, leading Clemson to their first offensive points of the day, throwing a dart to Hunter Renfrow for a 17-yard touchdown helping extend the Tigers’ lead to 14-0.

His next drive took just thirty-seven seconds. A bust in the Georgia Tech secondary left Justyn Ross wide open for a 57-yard touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Clemson fans might want to get used to hearing the Ross-Lawrence connection-- heck the nation might want to prepare.

Lawrence remained in the game for the rest of the first half. His final drive of the first half was a two-minute drill that featured an incredible catch from Renfrow and a strike to Amari Rodgers. The drive concluded with a shovel pass to Travis Etienne giving Clemson a commanding 28-7 lead at halftime.

By the time Bryant re-entered the game, his place as the backup to Lawrence was all but a formality as our numbers indicated.

Where Clemson goes from here, I can't be sure, but I know this-- the best quarterback is starting this Saturday and based on the on-field results it's not close.

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Lawrence tossed 4 touchdown passes in Saturday's win over Georgia Tech and has been named the starter against Syracuse

 

Another option team runs out of options

Georgia Tech’s opening drive took up 7:45 off the clock and gained just 39 yards. The Tigers were gashed, but penalties stalled the drive. Despite the slow start, Brent Venables embraced the early adversity.

“I loved every minute of it. The adversity, the response, some adjustments, just knocking them backwards to kind of set the tempo for the rest of the day."
- Venables on the opening drive

“I loved every minute of it. The adversity, the response, some adjustments, just knocking them backwards to kind of set the tempo for the rest of the day,” Venables said. 

After that, it did not take Brent Venables’ unit long to adjust. Georgia Tech fumbled four times in five plays with the final one leading to a Clelin Ferrell fumble recovery for Clemson’s first points of the afternoon.

Fast forward to 7:05 in the 2nd quarter, Georgia Tech had 1 yard of offense.

This defensive front passed another their toughest test against the option, holding Georgia Tech to 146 yards. The line of scrimmage after the 1st possession was controlled by the guys in orange. Keep in mind that Paul Johnson’s squad had the No. 1 rushing offense in the country coming into the game. 

Look out for Travis Etienne

Word to the defenses moving forward: Don’t try to arm tackle the sophomore running back. Travis Etienne followed up his career day last week against Georgia Southern with another 100+ yard performance.

The back-to-back performance was the first for a Clemson running back since Wayne Gallman in 2016.

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Travis Etienne ran for 122 yards in the win over the Jackets on Saturday.

Etienne displayed his combination of power and speed in Atlanta. He had numerous runs where he broke away from the defenders on first contact. You can definitely say that Etienne is growing into more of the complete running back here in 2018.

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Lawrence has the keys, Option test passed

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