Trevor Lawrence and Clemson offense on record-shattering pace
|Tuesday, November 12, 2019 7:01 AM- -|
CLEMSON - When Trevor Lawrence walked over to the sideline after throwing his second interception in the first quarter against Louisville a month ago, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney asked him what he was looking at.
When Lawrence told him what he saw, Swinney said, “That was stupid.”
Since then that moment, the last play for the Tigers in the first quarter of an eventual blowout win, Lawrence has been on fire.
Lawrence completed just 3-of-7 passes for 9 yards in the first 15 minutes of the Louisville win.
“He was about as bad in the first quarter as you can be,” Swinney said. “I think that was like negative, negative, negative in whatever your rating is.”
Lawrence’s quarterback rating was actually, minus-3.5 after the first quarter. It didn’t take long for Lawrence to turn things around – after the first quarter, he completed 17 of his last 20 passes for 224 yards, two touchdowns and no more interceptions in the win.
Since that game – and that dreadful first quarter – Lawrence has been using his pre-snap checklist to his advantage. Since that first quarter he has completed 65-of-84 passes (77 percent) for 995 yards and 12 touchdowns. And not one turnover.
“I think it's just being a little more focused. I was preparing well for the other games, too,” Lawrence said Monday. “But I think there has been a little extra level of focus the last few weeks that has been the difference for me. Before every snap, it's going through everything I need to do and going through my checklist. My pre-snap checklist has been big for me. That and the extra focus has been big for me.”
In the three games since the win over Louisville, the Clemson offense has been scoring points and gaining yards at a historic rate.
Clemson has now scored at least 55 points in three straight games for the first time in the program’s 124-year history. Clemson has scored at least 50 points in three straight games for the first time since 2013 against Virginia, Georgia Tech and The Citadel. Clemson, which averaged 7.9 yards per play against Louisville, 8.4 against Boston College and 11.0 against Wofford, averaged 7.1 yards per play and has now exceeded 7.0 yards per play in four straight games for the first time since the first four games of the 2018 season.
Lawrence became the first Clemson quarterback to throw three touchdown passes in five consecutive games and has now thrown a touchdown pass in 20 consecutive games, adding to the longest active streak in the country. (Note: UCF's McKenzie Milton had a 24-game streak prior to suffering an injury in November 2018 that will likely preclude him from playing in 2019).
During the NC State contest, Lawrence passed Charlie Whitehurst (59) for fourth in school history in career total touchdown responsibility.
Lawrence thinks this year’s offense is playing as well as it heading into the championship phase of the 2018 season.
“I think so. It's definitely similar to last year, how we just got better every week,” he said, “We are in the same spot, but I think we are a little bit better because of the continuity. The guys have been playing together for longer. Last year, at this point, was my first season, so I have a whole season under my belt. The receivers, too. They are in the same place. I think it's in the same place except for experience. We are just getting better every week.
“We are definitely playing well and playing together. There are things we can clean up. We had a few penalties the other night. But we are definitely playing well and getting better. I am just happy about the way we've prepared and we've come out ready and focused.”