CLEMSON, SC (WIS) - The Tigers took a big step forward with Saturday’s come-from-behind win at home over Syracuse.
"Tremendous perseverance," said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.
Adversity struck early against Syracuse. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was knocked out of the game after taking a hard hit on a scramble play in the second quarter. He entered concussion protocol and did not return.
"He got the crap knocked out of him," said Swinney. "We run our quarterbacks. That's what we do. Got to be smart. Coach them to be smart. He's a young player. That wasn't very smart. He was out of control. Love his effort."
Behind another freshman quarterback, Chase Brice, the Tigers rallied from a fourth-quarter double-digit deficit to win.
"Awesome," added Dabo. "Not to mention the drama of the week and all the distractions."
Last week, Clemson had to overcome the deflating decision of Kelly Bryant's transfer and two player suspensions.
"Definitely an interesting week," said Clemson senior wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. "Something that I think will help us this week and weeks to come."
Mark this moment on the Tigers’ growth chart.
"You know, as a coach, it's neat," said Swinney. "It's like your kids on the growth chart. I used to have a growth chart hanging in Clay's room. Take everybody in there and you'd mark it. It was just like, sometimes you don't always see the growth as quick because you're so close to it. But it was one of those moments, like, man we really grew as a team."
The Tigers stayed together, which Coach Swinney sees as a sign that something special is on the horizon.
"I think, on every team, there's this galvanizing moment," said Swinney. "Pretty cool to see it come together and see the leaders of this team lead and serve. You know everybody just looks and goes they are really talented. They got all these guys back, whatever it may be, and that's great. But chemistry and leadership and morale those are very undervalued."
What cannot be overstated is the importance of having Lawrence back in the mix for this weekend's game at Wake Forest. Lawrence is working his way back from what Coach Swinney is calling a neck strain. All indications are Lawrence will indeed make his second career start at Wake Forest. He practiced on Monday night and took all the snaps.
Swinney expects Lawrence to play.