Clemson QB Lawrence continues to avoid costly interceptions
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been able to accomplish his goal of protecting the football this season.
He has done it so well that there are few around the country doing it any better.
Lawrence is on a streak of 314 pass attempts without an interception, a streak dating back to last Oct. 19 when he was picked off twice at Louisville in Clemson’s 45-10 victory.
The lack of mistakes by Lawrence has become routine. He didn’t even know he became the third passer in Atlantic Coast Conference history to go more than 300 throws between interceptions.
“In my mind, I hadn’t really carried over the streak from last year,” Lawrence said. “When the year started, I kind of forgot about that. But I have thought, ‘I’m doing a good job taking care of the ball.’ That’s been a priority for me.”
And Lawrence has kept it going while continuing to take downfield shots for the Tigers (3-0, 2-0 ACC).
In beating The Citadel 49-0 on Sept. 19, Lawrence had TD throws of 44 yards to Amari Rodgers and 54 yards to Frank Ladson. He completed eight of nine passes before heading to the sidelines.
Two weeks later, Lawrence riddled a Virginia secondary that came in with five interceptions for 329 yards and three touchdowns. Lawrence connected with Rodgers again on a 27-yard pass where he placed the ball between his receiver and the back of the end zone out of reach of the Cavaliers defensive back D’Angelo Amos.
Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said Lawrence came into this season determined to improve his accuracy — and so far that’s evident.
Lawrence has completed 55 of 75 passes, a career best of 73.5%. Lawrence is the only one among the country’s top 10 in FBS passing efficiency without an interception.
“What makes Trevor special is his confidence in his preparation, his confidence in his arm and his confidence in his accuracy,” Elliott said.
That hasn’t always been the case.
Early in Lawrence’s sophomore season, he went through an uncomfortable stretch of throwing eight interceptions in the first seven games. Clemson didn’t lose, yet the presumptive No. 1 pick in next spring’s NFL draft was dissected and analyzed with everything from his footwork to his health and decision making called into question.
Lawrence didn’t pay attention, concentrating on doing what it took to keep winning on the way to Clemson’s fifth straight ACC crown and fifth trip to the College Football Playoff.
“Trevor never lets any of that get to him,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “He’s extremely focused.”
Lawrence’s current run of interception-free football is now up to 11 games. He is still well off ACC’s record holder in Seattle Seahawk’s Russell Wilson, who went 379 attempts in 2008-09 at North Carolina State.
Lawrence also has a ways to go to catch the FBS’s all-time leader in that category: Colby Cameron threw 444 passes between interceptions for Louisiana Tech in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
The biggest threat to Lawrence’s run could be this week at No. 7 Miami (3-0, 2-0), which has four interceptions this season and would like nothing better to get a chance to celebrate with its “Turnover Chain.”
Miami defensive coordinator Blake Baker knows Lawrence won’t make it easy.
“Even when you think you have a guy covered, (Lawrence) is so accurate, he’s going to put the ball in there,” Baker said.
Lawrence is anxious to go against Miami in the ACC’s first top-10 matchup this season and come out with victory, whether his interception-less streak continues or not.
Lawrence trusts his receivers to get open enough to make the plays, which makes his job easy: just put the ball in the right spot.
“I think that’s working for us so far,” he said.
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