Trevor Lawrence is still listed as the Heisman favorite through the first two weeks of the season, but in order for the Clemson quarterback to have a real shot at winning the award, or even being a finalist, he’s going to have to start putting up better numbers.
Lawrence has completed 64 percent of his passes for 436 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions in 2019 — pedestrian numbers, especially by his standard.
He completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,280 yards, with 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions as a freshman in 2018.
After a strong end to last season, Lawrence was expected to explode out of the gate this year, but that hasn’t been the case.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Lawrence is taking what the defense gives him and not giving into the pressure of feeling like he needs to pile up stats every week. He entered the year as the favorite to win the Heisman, the award given to the best player in college football.
“It’s definitely something you’ve got to kind of keep bringing yourself back to. We’re winning,” Lawrence said. “That’s the biggest thing for me is, I’m not going to play perfect. Regardless of the expectations my main goal is to win and to be a good leader and to do everything I can to help our team win.”
The winning has come easy for the Tigers thus far.
Clemson held a double digit lead for the entire second half in both the opener against Georgia Tech and last week against Texas A&M.
The Tigers are 27.5-point road favorites for Saturday’s ACC showdown at Syracuse and will likely be double-digit favorites for every game the rest of the regular season.
Still, Lawrence and the Tigers aren’t taking anything for granted.
“We’re gonna get everyone’s best every week. They circle Clemson when they play us,” Lawrence said. “So we know every week we’re getting everyone’s best. That’s one thing that keeps you grounded and makes you want to prepare every week because you know you’re getting their best.”
Even Syracuse’s best might not be enough to slow down this Clemson offense.
The Orange are coming off of a putrid defensive performance as they were destroyed 63-20 by Maryland last weekend, and despite Lawrence’s slow start, the Tigers have had no problem racking up points and yards.
Running backs Travis Etienne and Lyn-J Dixon have combined for 401 rushing yards and five touchdowns as both of Clemson’s first two opponents opted to focus on slowing down Clemson’s passing game and not its running game.
“You have to do something. You have to try to stop one or the other. It’s hard when you have so many options or weapons. It’s kind of hard to stop that,” Lawrence said. “You’ve gotta pick if you wanna die fast or slow. Teams have to do that. Travis has done a great job of exposing that when the box is light.”
Teams are likely eventually going to have to put more players in the box to try to slow down Etienne and Dixon, and when and if they do, Lawrence believes the passing game is ready to take advantage. Until then, he’s fine piling up Ws, even if he isn’t piling up individual stats.
“That’s something I’m having to keep bringing myself back to. It doesn’t really matter what my stats are as long as we’re winning and performing well,” Lawrence said.
Who: Clemson at Syracuse
When: 7:30 pm Saturday
Where: Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York
Line: Clemson by 27.5