The moment wasn't too big for freshman Dexter Lawrence


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Lawrence had seven tackles, one sack and a pass break up against Auburn.
Lawrence had seven tackles, one sack and a pass break up against Auburn.

AUBURN, AL – When Dexter Lawrence stepped on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday night, he wasn’t really sure what to expect. He just knew he would give everything he had.

He did that and more.

The freshman defensive tackle out of Wake Forest (NC) had prepared himself for this moment over the course of the last nine months and while he knew he’d see the proverbial kitchen sink, he also knew that the Auburn offensive line wouldn’t know what hit them.

Lawrence was second on the team with seven tackles, had a sack and a pass break up in Clemson’s 19-13 win over Auburn. It’s a moment he said he’s been preparing for this moment his whole life.

“I wasn't nervous much. I was just ready to g0 because I know how hard I worked this offseason just to be able to play in this first game,” Lawrence said late Saturday night. “We watched a lot of film on these guys. We knew what we were getting. They didn't know what they were getting because they hadn't seen me on film yet. I feel like I may have surprised them a little bit. It was fun. I enjoyed every play out there. I was just giving it my all nonstop and setting up some of my teammates to get interceptions and things like that.”

Most freshmen would’ve gotten wide-eyed in front of 87,000 fans, but not Lawrence.

“I just tried to embrace the moment as much as I could. I was just trying to understand the play calls, get the signals and get down in my stances,” he said. “I was trying to be cool with other players and play with a little bit of swag as the guys say. I was trying to not let everything get to my head and zone out everything else.”

Lawrence wasn’t even fazed when he was on the field on the final of drive of the game as the Auburn offense did their best to pull the upset over second-ranked Clemson.

“I was definitely trying to give it my all and get pressure on the quarterback. He just rolled out and threw it deep and it's just a pray ball after that,” he said. “Our defensive backs stepped up and deflected the ball down and it was a big play. It was just special that the coaches trusted me enough to put me out there. It will give us a lot of confidence. It was their home opener. It gave Coach Swinney his first win here. It will give us a lot of confidence so if we see that situation again we'll know how to handle it.”

The moment was never too big for the 6-6, 342 pounder because of his preparation throughout the offseason.

“I was already comfortable with it because our offensive line, I feel like is one of the best in the country,” he said. “During the spring and summer, I was just getting acclimated to the speed of the game. They just helped me a lot.”

Not only, did the coaches trust Lawrence to be in the game in crunch time, they also put him in a jumbo package on the goal line to lead the way for Wayne Gallman and a Clemson touchdown. Lawrence said playing offense is fun, but he still prefers defense.

“That's a good question. I would say getting a sack because on defense it goes towards the stats a little bit,” he said. “Offense, that was great too, to help Wayne get into the endzone and just being a contributor for the team. That was fun. We were going through that play a little bit in practice and I told Wayne that he was going to score no matter what. I was expecting somebody in the hole but there was nobody there.”

As for Lawrence and the Clemson defense, there’s still plenty more to prove over the next 11-plus games.

“Our defense was just trying to prove something in the first game,” he said. “Tonight and throughout the whole season we're just trying to prove that we're one of the best. We're trying to limit the big plays that we gave up last year and have effort with technique because that's what Coach Swinney always preaches.”


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