A week ago, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he would make a change at quarterback when one player clearly separated himself on the field. That's exactly what happened when Trevor Lawrence looked dominant in a win over Georgia Tech on Saturday, and the school announced Monday that the freshman would be the No. 3 Tigers' new starter.
Kelly Bryant, who led Clemson to the College Football Playoff last season, has started all four games this season, but Lawrence, the No. 2 overall recruit in the nation this year according to ESPN, has been superb coming off the bench, including completing 13 of 18 passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns against the Yellow Jackets on Saturday.
"After four games, just looking at it, they've both played well, but this came down to you have to reward productivity. He's taken advantage of [opportunities]," co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said Monday. "Kelly didn't do anything wrong, but it's a situation where he's been in the game and productive, and to be fair to competition, just like we do for every position, Coach decided to name him the starter."
Swinney declined to discuss the quarterback situation Sunday but noted that the win over Georgia Tech was Lawrence's best game to date.
"He really played well," Swinney said. "He was very poised. The game has slowed down for him, and he's making good decisions. ... He made some beautiful throws ... and there's just some technical things to clean up."
Elliott added that the starting quarterback role is still a week-to-week decision but "Trevor has earned the right to run out there first."
Through four games, Bryant has led the offense on 21 full drives, while Lawrence has led 23. Clemson has averaged 4.2 points per drive with Lawrence at the helm, nearly double Bryant's scoring rate.
At Cartersville (Ga.) High School, Lawrence was among the nation's most prized recruits, and he broke several state records previously held by former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Lawrence enrolled at Clemson in January, with coaches then saying he was already ahead of Watson's pace in terms of development. Watson, too, came off the bench for Clemson's first three games in 2014 before assuming the starting job.
In 2018, Lawrence has completed 65 percent of his throws for 600 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions with a passer rating of 191.8, the eighth-best mark in the country. Bryant has completed 67 percent of his passes for 461 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The Tigers take on undefeated Syracuse on Saturday.