Trevor Lawrence made his much-anticipated debut at quarterback with the Clemson Tigers on Saturday during the team’s spring game. He didn’t disappoint.
Lawrence finished 11 of 16 for 122 yards and a touchdown. His most impressive throw was a 50-yard score to sophomore receiver Tee Higgins on his first drive of the game.
But statistically, it could have been a much bigger day. Lawrence hit Higgins again for a big gain that would have set up his offense inside the 5-yard line, but the coaching staff didn’t count the play because it was whistled dead when defensive lineman Christian Wilkins grazed Lawrence with his hand just before the ball was released. In the Clemson spring game, if any defender touches the quarterback, the play is immediately finished.
So instead of another long completion, which probably happens in a real football game, Wilkins received a sack.
The same thing happened on another long pass attempt by Lawrence on his final drive of the game. He completed another pass at least 15 yards downfield, but it also didn’t count. Had those two completions counted, Lawrence would have been approaching 200 passing yards on just 16 attempts.
Clemson’s incumbent quarterback Kelly Bryant wasn’t nearly as sharp. He led seven drives and his offense earned just 1 first down. Bryant overthrew the ball all afternoon and missed multiple open receivers. He finished just 8 of 15 for 35 yards.
Starting jobs aren’t won and lost in spring games alone. It’s important to also note that Lawrence had the advantage of throwing passes to Higgins while Bryant did not (they were on opposing teams). This fall, Bryant will have the chance to simply throw it to Higgins as Lawrence did at times on Saturday.
Regardless, there’s no denying Lawrence’s spring game performance helped the freshman make his case to start in Week 1.