- Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence will not be available when the Tigers face Notre Dame on November 7.
- Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, October 28.
- Highly touted freshman D.J. Uiagalelei will start at quarterback until Lawrence returns.
Clemson’s starting quarterback and presumptive top pick in the 2021 NFL draft Trevor Lawrence will miss his second straight game following a positive test for COVID-19 last Wednesday. According to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney it isn’t so much Lawrence’s health status as it is the timing of the ACC COVID-19 protocol. At the time of his positive test it was reported that Lawrence was experiencing ‘mild’ COVID-19 symptoms but based on Swinney’s comments after Saturday’s 34-28 win over Boston College it sounds as if his condition has improved.
The #1 ranked Tigers experienced some anxious moments on Saturday facing Boston College at home. Clemson opened a -31.5 favorite but that price dropped by nearly a touchdown following the announcement that Lawrence would not play. Obviously out of sync without their usual starting quarterback Clemson trailed 14-7 after the first quarter and 28-13 at halftime.
The second half was a different story entirely. Freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei put the college football world on notice that their problems with Clemson won’t end when Lawrence leaves to play on Sundays. The Bellflower, California product has all the tools you’d want from a quarterback–size (6’4″, 250), a Howitzer for an arm and is a speedy and powerful rushing threat. He’s also got the confidence and poise you need to play quarterback at Clemson. The Tigers have a knack for recruiting quarterbacks that excel as freshmen including Deshaun Watson and Lawrence. Uiagalelei is more of the same according to Tigers’ offensive coordinator Tony Elliot:
“We’ve kind of been spoiled around here. To see how Deshaun [Watson] and Trevor responded as freshman. They didn’t respond like typical freshmen. We saw it from the day D.J. walked in here. He was going to be ready.”
Uiagalelei never lost his poise–even when the Tigers were down by 18. He described his mindset:
“I’ve been down before in high school. Being down 18 points is not really a lot of points. I’ve been down 25 points before. I knew we were going to come back. “
Never mind the fact that the Tigers hadn’t overcome a deficit this large at home since 1966. For the game, Uiagalelei went 30 for 41 for 342 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. He also rushed for 25 yards and a touchdown. Clemson’s NFL calibre defense also woke up as the Tigers outscored Boston College 23-0 in the second half.
His performance made the fact that Lawrence will miss Saturday’s game against Notre Dame less daunting. According to Swinney, Lawrence is feeling fine and could play but won’t be able to be cleared under the ACC’s COVID-19 protocol:
Pursuant to CDC guidance, a student-athlete who tests positive for COVID-19 shall be isolated for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms/positive test and at least 1 day (i.e., 24 hours) has passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement of respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).
Notre Dame is 6-0 overall with a 5-0 record in the ACC but they haven’t faced a team remotely as good as Clemson. It’ll be interesting to see how the game is priced. Notre Dame is perpetually overvalued and with the knowledge that Uiagalelei now has a week to prepare this could be a good spot to back the Tigers.