Here's a thought that should terrify the rest of college football: Lawrence — who is 25–1 as the starter at Clemson — is out for redemption
This season, Trevor Lawrence is clearly the face (not to mention the flowing mane) of college football. In Lawrence's two seasons at Clemson, the Tigers have lost only one game, going 29–1 while winning one national title and playing for another. As he builds on that remarkable record (and tries to win a second national title), Lawrence will also be padding these sparkling career numbers: 6,945 passing yards, 66 touchdowns (to only 12 interceptions), a 65.5 percent completion rate, 740 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs. In the offseason, Lawrence reflected on the disappointing 42–25 loss to LSU in the championship game and looked ahead to what will almost certainly be his final season in college before he takes his talents to some lucky NFL team that spends 2020 Tanking for Trevor.
Did it take a little time to get your equilibrium back after the national championship loss, or did you put it behind you right away?
I think anytime after a game like that especially, it takes a little while to let it sink in and kind of move on. It took me a little while, especially just you know, the way it happened, in the national championship, and you work all year to get there. So it's hard, especially knowing that you're not going to play with some of those guys again. But yeah, I mean probably a couple of weeks, and then you start to get back to, ‘OK, let's get started again.'
Have you looked back at that game and decided if it was what LSU did, or if maybe you weren't as crisp as usual?
It was a combination of a lot of things, and when I say we did our best, I meant like we prepared our best, good effort, all of those things. I didn't play my best. That's not what I meant. But yeah, I mean it's a lot of things. LSU played well. They did some things defensively that were really good. And then also it just wasn't my best game. Missed some throws. Down the stretch I missed some big throws. So it comes down to that. And then a lot of little details that are just things you only know if you're a part of this offense. So just little things and just overall not syncing up well, offense and defense together. It just wasn't our night.
What did you learn from that adversity that you think maybe you needed to learn or that is going to help you moving forward to be a better player?
I feel like through my two years I've just been through like every different situation you could be in. Just getting more and more perspective I think is the biggest thing. Going through some adversity, I hadn't gone through much, it's the only game I've lost since I've been here. So it definitely gives you some more perspective, and you appreciate all of the little things. And it just makes you want to go back and work even harder to get back there and have a chance at that moment again.
Is it a different feeling for you this year, not only coming off a loss but also a poor performance for you individually against LSU?
I mean yeah, like I said, it just makes you want to go out there and earn it even more. It all starts over, which is a good feeling. Everyone's already looking at next year, so we feel like we're back in the fight and can work to get where we want to now. So just taking it day by day. I mean it's going to be a long offseason, a lot of time to get ready. So just taking it one day at a time and maximizing each day.
What have you done to improve this offseason?
Just in the weight room. Keep getting stronger, gaining weight. I think I say that every year. That's always something for me that's important. And then just leadership, just being a better leader. I think I did a good job last year, but just kind of upping that role a little bit as an older guy now, an upperclassmen. So just being a better leader. I've always worked hard to try to be the example, but just be a little more outspoken and all of those things.
What was your reaction when you heard running back Travis Etienne was returning, and what does he bring to this offense?
Obviously I was happy. We had talked a little bit, I can't remember exactly when. We had just kind of had some private conversations before he decided what he was gonna do. So I kind of thought he might come back. But I wasn't sure. I thought he'd end up last second deciding he was leaving. But man, it's awesome to have him back, obviously. It speaks for itself what he's done. But just a great guy. I think it's a good opportunity for him to build his leadership. Everyone's looking at him now, especially on this team. He's a big leader for us. I think it'll be good for him to come back, grow a little bit more, work on his game and also have another chance to go win a national championship.
Have you started thinking about your own future beyond Clemson and this season?
I think about it a little bit and the possibilities of the future, but especially not now. Not too much now. We're getting back to work. That something you can think about when the season's over. For me, I mean I've still got at least one more year, maybe two. So it's still a ways away. You kind of have to start thinking about things, but also being smart and just being in the moment and really enjoying the now, too.
What's your academic status?
I'll graduate in December, so that'll kind of leave it open for whatever's the best for me.
Going into this season, how do you balance putting last season behind you but also using the sting of that loss to fuel you going into 2020?
Yeah, it's both for sure, but we're still proud of what we did. It sucks the way it ended, but still a lot of work, a lot of time spent here preparing. I feel like we all gave it our all. We did our best. It's tough with a game like that obviously, but we're still proud of what we did. But definitely with that sting we want to build on it and give us that extra edge to make sure we're not leaving anything on the table like we did last year.
It seems you have the attitude that you're not worried about how many yards you throw for or your stats. Did that help as you entered the offseason, that attitude of getting yourself right and ready for the coming season?
For sure. It didn't change how I would've responded, whether we won or lost. It is a different feeling, though. It's almost easier to come back after you lose that game. You're ready to get started again. You know when you win it you're like, ‘Alright, let's let the offseason be like another week longer and enjoy it.' But you're ready to get back, especially when you lose that last game. The way I want to be is just consistent. Never really go up and down. Be the same person after that loss, just trying to be that guy in the locker room. It's obviously tough for us.
(Top photo courtesy of Clemson Athletics)