NEW ORLEANS — Trevor Lawrence sat at his locker along with his full uniform on because the room round him emptied out. Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott sat subsequent to him, providing reassurance and encouragement.
Solely 30 minutes earlier, it was Lawrence who provided the identical to his Clemson teammates, strolling round to every one after a 42-25 loss to LSU within the Faculty Soccer Playoff Nationwide Championship, hugging them and telling them he liked them.
It was their first loss in 30 video games and the quarterback’s first loss since taking part in highschool soccer in Georgia. Maybe strolling round that room and seeing all his teammates provided reassurance sufficient. As a result of make no mistake: Clemson expects to be proper again within the nationwide championship sport subsequent season in South Florida.
“There is not any doubt about it, we will be again,” stated quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter, who will tackle passing-game coordinator duties subsequent season. “That is our fifth yr in a row coming to the playoffs and 4 out of 5 coming to the nationwide championship sport. That is what we’re constructed for. That is the expectations, and our children love that, and we’ll reply to that.”
With Lawrence again for his junior season, Clemson would be the heavy favourite to make it to the Faculty Soccer Playoff for a sixth consecutive season. The Tigers are already No. 1 in ESPN’s 2020 Means-Too-Early High 25.
It is a program coach Dabo Swinney has constructed to final, and after finishing the perfect decade in class historical past, there isn’t any disgrace in trying forward.
Trevor Lawrence reaches the top zone within the first quarter, however Clemson got here up brief towards LSU. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports activities
Swinney views the 2010s as transformative, and he vows that the 2020s shall be even higher. He already has dubbed them “The Roarin’ ’20s.” In any case, his “Finest is but to come back” mantra has turn out to be as a lot a staple to Clemson because the Tiger Paw and Clemson $2 payments.
“It is true,” stated offensive lineman Sean Pollard, one of many departing seniors on this Clemson group. “We simply signed the No. 1 recruiting class within the nation for the primary time ever, so if that does not show his assertion true, I do not know what does. We’ve 80 freshmen and sophomores on this group that grew up in a short time, and now they have been in large video games. They don’t seem to be younger anymore, in order that’s going to be an enormous driving pressure subsequent yr.”
Within the subsequent few days, Clemson will await NFL draft choices from 4 notable underclassmen: operating again Travis Etienne, extensive receiver Tee Higgins, linebacker Isaiah Simmons and cornerback A.J. Terrell. Simmons and Higgins are listed on the most recent Mel Kiper Jr. Huge Board, whereas Etienne and Terrell are ranked among the many high 10 prospects at their respective positions.
Even when all 4 go away, Clemson returns proficient gamers at each place. We noticed glimpses of tight finish Braden Galloway towards LSU and the potential he may deliver to the offense subsequent season. The extensive receiver group is loaded with gamers equivalent to Justyn Ross, Amari Rodgers, Frank Ladson Jr. and Joe Ngata again.
Clemson returns two of the brightest younger stars on the D-line in true freshman defensive sort out Tyler Davis and defensive finish Xavier Thomas. The expertise they gained all through a 14-1 season, plus the way in which they performed towards LSU, will solely serve them nicely.
In any case, Clemson misplaced on this very area to Alabama within the 2017 Faculty Soccer Playoff semifinals, then proceeded to reel off 29 straight victories.
“You see how we reloaded after we misplaced on this area,” stated Higgins, who added he was not able to announce a call on his future. “I am fairly positive we will do the identical factor. We’ll come again subsequent yr and be even higher than we have been this yr. We’ll be good subsequent yr.”
That each one begins with Lawrence, who had his worst sport in a Clemson uniform on Monday. Lawrence accomplished lower than 50% of his passes and had 13 overthrows — essentially the most by a Energy 5 participant in any sport over the previous two seasons. His 38.1 QBR is his worst in a sport he performed from begin to end.
No person may fairly put a finger on what went fallacious. As Lawrence struggled, the whole offense struggled, and Clemson transformed a season-low 1 of 11 third-down alternatives. In a sport wherein matching and even beating Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow throw for throw was of utmost significance, Lawrence merely didn’t measure up.
“I wasn’t correct tonight,” Lawrence stated. “Did not put the ball the place it wanted to be, did not give my guys an opportunity sufficient, and it comes right down to that basically, giving them an opportunity, and I simply did not do an excellent job of doing that.”
Trevor Lawrence explains what went fallacious for himself and the Clemson Tigers of their loss to LSU and displays on the nice issues the group has completed to this point.
Whereas Lawrence was exterior the locker room doing interviews, his teammates and coaches inside refused to place the blame on him. However all of them agreed Lawrence can be a greater participant having gone via the adversity he confronted Monday evening.
“We’re proper there, and let it slip away, however he’s a man with an incredible coronary heart, and he has responded in each state of affairs he is ever been confronted with,” Streeter stated. “I informed him, ‘There’s part of you that needs life was excellent, and we have been excellent for 29 video games in a row, and that is simply life thrown at you.’
“He’ll reply as a result of it should put a bit of carrot out in his nostril simply by saying, ‘Hey, we will go get it subsequent yr.'”
It has taken a decade for Clemson to construct up to now and, not less than proper now, it appears as if there isn’t any possible ceiling. Swinney had a imaginative and prescient to promote in 2010, however he has all of the proof now. There seem like no coming hindrances within the weakened ACC, both, making the trail extensive open for the foreseeable future.
So the message within the locker room was easy. Swinney informed his gamers to understand the magnitude of what they’d completed, and although they wished to place their heads down, there was no cause to. He challenged the youthful guys. “You could have the accountability to uphold the requirements we now have at Clemson,” he informed them.
Then he added one last item: Spring follow begins in six weeks.
“Ultimately you are going to lose one,” Swinney stated in his postgame feedback. “This definitely wasn’t the one we wished to lose, however I understand how we’ll reply. We’ll get again to work. You’ll be able to’t win two till you win one, so we’ll get again to work and see if we will come again and have an incredible yr subsequent yr and actually simply attempt to obtain our targets. We have got 5 easy targets and so they do not change.”
As a result of Clemson has no plans to go wherever. Not any time quickly.