Wat­son raves about Trevor, and cel­e­brates Clem­son’s ti­tle

The State - - Front Page - BY MATT CON­NOLLY mcon­[email protected]­tate.com

Clem­son fresh­man quar­ter­back Trevor Lawrence put to­gether a mas­ter­ful per­for­mance against Alabama and Nick Sa­ban in Mon­day night’s na­tional cham­pi­onship game to lead the Tigers to a 44-16 vic­tory and a per­fect 15-0 sea­son.

Lawrence carved up Alabama’s sec­ondary to the tune of 347 pass­ing yards and three touch­downs with no in­ter­cep­tions.

It was a per­for­mance that was rem­i­nis­cent of what for­mer Tigers quar­ter­back De­shaun Wat­son did dur­ing his two meet­ings against the Crim­son Tide in the na­tional ti­tle game.

Wat­son has watched Lawrence all year and at­tended Mon­day’s na­tional cham­pi­onship game in per­son. He came away more than im­pressed by what he saw.

“Man, he’s special,” Wat­son told The State fol­low­ing Clem-

son’s vic­tory. “He’s a guy that’s been do­ing great things ever since he came in and just went to work. He’s been quiet and just kind of put his head down and been grind­ing.”

Clem­son has en­joyed an in­cred­i­ble run of suc­cess led by star quar­ter­backs since the start of the 2011 sea­son.

First it was Tajh Boyd who lifted Clem­son’s pro­gram to a new level as the Tigers won at least 10 games in all three of Boyd’s years as the starter.

Wat­son fol­lowed Boyd and led Clem­son to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off in two of his three sea­sons, win­ning the 2016 na­tional ti­tle.

Kelly Bryant, who is trans­fer­ring to Mis­souri, con­tin­ued Clem­son’s run of suc­cess last sea­son as the TIgers reached the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off and won the ACC ti­tle in 2017.

Lawrence took over as the start­ing quar­ter­back for Bryant four games into this year, and the Tigers never looked back. Clem­son won all 10 of the games that Lawrence started and fin­ished by at least 20 points. Clem­son outscored Notre Dame and Alabama by a com­bined score of 74-19 in two Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off games as Clem­son proved that it is in a league of its own.

Clem­son will likely be No. 1 in the 2019 pre­sea­son poll as Lawrence and most of the rest of Clem­son’s of­fense re­turns. Clem­son can win its third ti­tle in four years next sea­son.

“The rea­son why I came here was to kind of start a trend and start some­thing special,” Wat­son said. “Tajh started it be­fore I got here and I wanted to fol­low his foot­steps and take it to an­other heights. Then Kelly came in and did what he had to do. Now with Trevor it’s his time to con­tinue to build this fran­chise to an­other high level. It’s no sur­prise for me.”

While Lawrence shined dur­ing his fresh­man sea­son, fin­ish­ing with 3,280 pass­ing yards, 30 touch­downs and four in­ter­cep­tions, he still has plenty of room to im­prove, ac­cord­ing to co-of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Tony El­liott.

That is scary news for the rest of the col­lege foot­ball world after Clem­son’s dom­i­nant per­for­mance Mon­day night.

“He’s still just a fresh­man. I know peo­ple are us­ing that against him and he didn’t play like one, but he’s just go­ing to con­tinue to get bet­ter ev­ery sin­gle day,” El­liott said. “Pol­ish­ing his craft, con­tin­u­ing to grow men­tally, be able to chal­lenge him to han­dle pro­tec­tions at an even higher level, be able to make run checks. I mean there’s still a ton of room in that ceil­ing be­fore he reaches his po­ten­tial.”

Trevor Lawrence

De­shaun Wat­son

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