Clemson University

‘Did he really just do that?’ Trevor Lawrence just continues to impress

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence talks freshman season

Lawrence leads the ACC in passing touchdowns
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Lawrence leads the ACC in passing touchdowns

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is described by his players as a perfectionist. Tigers linebacker Isaiah Simmons said as much on Monday.

Venables demands and expects his players to be in the right position and to make plays.

But going against Trevor Lawrence every day in practice has taught Venables that sometimes your defenders can be in the perfect position but the throw is just too good.

“I’m like, ‘Did he just really do that?’” Venables said Tuesday, referencing times that he has been stunned by a throw that Lawrence made. “What y’all are seeing is what we’ve been seeing really since he’s gotten here. It’s only going to get better, and it’s pretty dang good right now. He’s very special.”

Simmons is one of the players who faces off against Lawrence every day in practice.

Since Lawrence arrived on campus in January, Simmons has been challenged by the former No. 1 overall recruit.

“I remember one play vividly where he rolled out and made this throw in the corner of the end zone like through defenders’ hands and everything. There was only one place the ball could be without it being intercepted, and he put it there on the run. I’ll always remember that,” Simmons said. “There’s not really much you can do about that other than give him props.”

Venables has been a part of games where opposing quarterbacks have frustrated him when they get into a rhythm, including Ryan Finley last year at N.C. State.

And while Venables may get mad at his players at times when they don’t make a play against Lawrence, he isn’t frustrated by Lawrence. In fact, he enjoys watching him make plays.

“That would definitely get me frustrated if that was game day, but not when it’s your guy. Not at all,” Venables said. “You know you’ve got a guy that’s doing something pretty special where all of a sudden they start chattering (in film), and you’re watching like, ‘Whoa. I can’t get mad at the guys for that one.’ It was like multiple times per day.”

Venables has been around a lot of good quarterbacks during his time as an assistant coach in college football, but he said Lawrence sticks out. Lawrence leads the ACC in passing touchdowns with 16 and passed Deshaun Watson’s record for passing touchdowns and yards in a season by a true freshman on Saturday.

“For a young guy just his decision making. How fast he’s able to process. And then the skill set to execute it with precision, with quickness, with velocity, with timeliness. Just all of it. He knows exactly what to do. And he really has done that since he’s gotten here,” Venables said. “Very, very unique. It’s been fun to watch him get more and more comfortable.”

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney added that Lawrence came in and immediately earned the respect of his teammates with his work ethic, attitude and ability.

When FSU safety Hamsah Nasirildeen was ejected for targeting on Saturday, Lawrence’s teammates immediately ran to his side to offer support.

“At the end of the day, we always say game knows game. I think they all quickly realized, ‘Man, this guy can play.’ And then you throw in the fact that he’s such an easy guy to like because of how he handles himself, he’s just a very unassuming guy. He’s a very humble leader,” Swinney said. “He leads by example. He’s a worker. I think he earned the respect of everyone just by being who he’s always been.”