CLEMSON—Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence may appear to be a quiet, mild-mannered 6-foot-5, 230-pound, long-haired, free spirit. But that is not the case. Not the case at all.
In fact, fans and the nation caught a glimpse of his passion in the Tigers' opening game. After throwing, what looked like, a sure pick-6, Lawrence proceeded to chase down the Tech defender and laid a hit on him that would make defensive coordinator Brent Venables proud.
That play, that held Georgia Tech out of the end zone and gave the defense a the opportunity for a goal line stand—which they accomplished four plays late.
“That kind of play sets the tone for everything that we do,” coach Dabo Swinney said.
Safety K'Von Wallace added, "That's going to be the highlight of our season."
But Lawerence's passion once again showed up, and provided a second spark, in Saturday's 24-10 win over the No. 11 Texas A&M Aggies.
In the second quarter, with the Tigers clinging to a 10-point lead and the Tigers needing a spark, Lawrence rolled out to his right and threw the ball away. But it was what happened after the play that turned Clark Kent into Superman.
Aggie defender Justin Madubuike's dangerous and illegal horse-collar tackle left 81,500 people in the stands wondering if Lawrence would be okay. He was. And he let the Aggie defender know that he did not appreciate the nature of the tackle.
“I was just yelling at him because he horse-collared me pretty bad,” Lawrence said. "It was a little spark."
That spark ended with Lawrence capping the drive that gave the Tigers a 17-3 lead at halftime with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“He’s the ultimate competitor,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “Now he understands that he’s the quarterback. He’s the leader of the offense, leader of the team, so he has to maintain a certain level of poise. But there’s nothing wrong with showing a little bit of emotion.
"He gets passionate, and he understands that if he shows that fire and that emotion it can ignite the guys around him to elevate their level of play.”
While that play, combined with the numerous shots he took from Aggie defenders in the running game, may have left some fans panicked, for Swinney, Lawrence was akin to a pitcher pitching and not just throwing—he was playing quarterback.
“Lawrence played the quarterback position extremely well today,” Swinney said. “He was gutsy, tough and showed a lot of great heart and leadership.”
The goal was accomplished for Lawrence. Not only to beat the Aggies. Not only to out-duel Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond, who torched the Tigers last season. Not only to silence the talk that had come from College Station, Texas over the last week. But to once again "leave no doubt" about who was the better team.
"Definitely. We wanted to leave no doubt," he said to the media. "We talked about that all week and do our talking on the field. There was a lot of stuff on social media. We didn't want to play into any of that stuff. We just wanted to do our talking on the field."