Streeter on the rise of Trevor Lawrence: "When I think he can't, he really can."
|Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 8:01 AM- -|
“That kid cannot be 19 years old! Come on!”
Those words were uttered by ESPN play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler late in Clemson’s 44-16 win over Alabama in the National Championship Game last month. Tiger quarterback Trevor Lawrence had just unleashed a dart to wide receiver Tee Higgins for a touchdown, a score that covered five official yards but was so much more than that.
Lawrence took the snap and dropped back to the 15-yard line and immediately saw pressure from the outside. As the defender barreled in, Lawrence stayed in the pocket and delivered a strike that flew over the outstretched hands of the linebacker, over a defensive back and in front of yet another defensive back.
Touchdown. Fowler was incredulous, and the assembled media in the press box at Levi’s Stadium had varying degrees of reaction, most of them of the “did you just see that” variety.
It wasn’t the only throw of the night that had people talking, not on a night when Lawrence threw for 347 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the win.
His second completion of the game gave a glimpse of what was to come. On third-and-14 at Clemson’s 21-yard line, Lawrence spotted a flat-footed safety and threw a missile up the right seam. The ball traveled 43 yards through the air and was perfectly on-target, landing in Higgins’s hands for a 62-yard gain that set up the Tigers’ first offensive touchdown.
Quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter wasn’t surprised. Just amazed. He then compared it to a big man shooting a 3-pointer in a basketball game.
“I've seen several throws, whether it was in practice or a game, and you're just like wow,” Streeter said of Lawrence. “It's one of those situations - and we've had several of these - where you have a shooter that's not really a 3-point shooter. He's the big man. But he's taking a three, and you're like no, no, no, and he drains it. It's one of those deals where he does that all the time. You're like, 'No! Don't make that throw!' And then he makes it.”
Another throw stood out to Streeter, and it happened in the game that put Lawrence over the top – Clemson’s win at Georgia Tech in September, the last game that Lawrence didn’t start in the 2018 season.
“The best example of that would be the one when he rolled out to the left against Georgia Tech and threw it to (Hunter) Renfrow in the end zone,” Streeter said. “That was a beautiful throw. He just slid that ball in there. I will tell you, I was in the box saying, 'No, don't force it!' And then bang, he makes that throw. He did that all through high school. He's done such a good job of taking care of the football. He knows when he can make those throws and when he can't. Sometimes when I think he can't, he really can. But that was just one example.”
Streeter has worked with some pretty good quarterbacks during his time as a coach, but there are times when Lawrence stands above the rest.
“The velocity that he gets on the football, and with how quick he gets it out, I've never seen that before,” Streeter said. “I am very impressed with that, and his ability to be that accurate from that far away is hard to do. Obviously, there are things he has to work on and get better at, and he knows that. And he is mature enough to know that he has to continue to learn. But he is well beyond his years, for sure.
“I have never been around him when he's frustrated or flustered or whatever the word is. He is never in that situation. It doesn't matter what the situation is, and I've been to a ton of his high school games and big games. Everybody was asking if he could handle doing this in college and can he handle doing this in college. There is no question. I knew he could, so it was just a matter of everybody else buying in. He definitely can do that. There is no stage that is too big him, and that is impressive at that age.”