No. 4 Clemson hopes to unleash Lawrence against Pitt
Trevor Lawrence may finally get back in the game.
Clemson’s junior quarterback, who hasn’t played in more than a month, said Tuesday he’s eager to return to action Saturday against Pitt after missing two games with COVID-19.
He was set to play Saturday at Florida State, but that game was postponed, meaning Lawrence hasn’t played since an Oct. 24 win against Syracuse.
“I had a really good week of practice and was ready to go,” Lawrence said. “I felt like I was in a good spot. Hopefully, everything goes well this week and we get to play.”
The No. 4 Tigers (7-1, 6-1 ACC) will host Pitt Saturday on Senior Day at Memorial Stadium, and there’s a chance that coach Dabo Swinney’s team also will welcome back three key defenders who have missed substantial time with injuries, including top linebackers James Skalski and Mike Jones Jr. and All-ACC defensive tackle Tyler Davis.
Clemson is riding a 27-game home winning streak and hasn’t lost a home game in 1,477 days. Ironically, that defeat came 43-42 at the hands of Pitt on Nov. 12, 2016; the Panthers would go on to win their final two regular-season games before losing to Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl and finishing 8-5.
Clemson never lost again that season, reeling off five straight victories en route to the national title.
The Tigers’ only defeat this season came in a 47-40 double-overtime loss at Notre Dame on Nov. 7, the last time the team played. Pitt (5-4, 4-4) has posted two straight impressive victories, rolling past Florida State and Virginia Tech by a combined 57 points.
“Pitt’s a good football team,” Swinney said. “A lot of people had them ranked really high early in the season and when you watch them, you’ll see why. They’re 5-4, but they easily are a 7-2, 8-1 team. They had two one-point losses.
“They’re first in the country in tackles for loss, second in the country in sacks. A fun team to watch on tape, to be honest with you, because they play the game the way I think it should be played — physical, tough, great effort, aggressiveness. We know we’ll have our hands full with this group.”
The Panthers’ recent resurgence has a lot to do with the return of quarterback Kenny Pickett following an ankle injury. Pickett is coming off a 404-yard passing game in a win against Virginia Tech.
“Everything starts with their quarterback,” Swinney said. “He’s a really good player — a veteran guy, he’s savvy, understands what they’re doing.”
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi is perhaps most impressed with Clemson’s balance. The Tigers are one of only two teams to rank among the top 17 nationally in both total offense and total defense.
“Those are two really, really good ratings when you’re both,” Narduzzi said. “A lot of times you see a team that’s got a top-rated offense and maybe not as good of a defense and vice versa, but they’re good at everything they do. We know they’re a talent-rich football team.”
It goes a long way toward explaining why Clemson is a 24-point favorite.
“You really worry about what we do — not worrying about Clemson and who they are,” Narduzzi said. “It’s about us executing.”
–Field Level Media