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Trevor Lawrence vs. UNC

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks to pass vs. North Carolina. Coach Dabo Swinney says, "He didn't play his best game, but he dug down and responded."

CLEMSON -- Trevor Lawrence has been the Tigers' starting quarterback for the last 15 games, but it wasn't until his 20th game that he showed that he truly is a special quarterback.

It was not because of any special play or particular throw, it was because of what he did when the defense was facing a do-or-die two-point conversion play against North Carolina that could have ended the Tigers' 20-game winning streak and their hopes for a national title.

Lawrence left the offensive huddle and joined the Tiger defense to offer encouragement.

"It was actually a cool thing to see. All game, I'll walk by Trevor, just pick him up, because I knew we were struggling offensively and defensively as well," defensive lineman Jordan Williams said. "But just having him out there on the field with us, because you knew typically the defense gathers on the field. For him to come onto the field and try and pick us up, it actually meant a lot to me. It showed a lot about him and his character and the kind of person he is. But that's just who he is. It's not anything that he wouldn't have done any other time."

Lawrence's leadership in that moment did not come as a surprise to those having seen him play. However, even head coach Dabo Swinney admitted that his sophomore quarterback had not faced the kind of game that he did in the 21-20 win over UNC.

When the game was on the line, Lawrence showed who he really is — not just a leader of the offense, but of the Clemson Tigers.

"I've been with Trevor for 20 games now and he hasn't had a game like that. It's not like we haven't played anybody," Swinney said. "We've had conference title games and a national championship. Those moments weren't too big for him. He has answered all the questions. You know you'll eventually have a game where it will be tight.

"He didn't play his best game, but he dug down and responded. I knew he had all the things he needed. I just hadn't experienced it with him in that situation. It was cool to see him under fire a little bit, not that I want close games. He's a great leader. It's just so natural for him."

  • Sept. 27, 2008 — then-Florida quarterback Tim Tebow offered an emotional apology following a loss to Ole Miss.

The apology quickly garnered the attention of the sports world, becoming known simply as “The Pledge.”

“To the fans and everybody of Gator nation, I’m sorry,” Tebow began. “Extremely sorry. We wanted an undefeated season. That was my goal, something Florida has never done. I promise you one thing, a lot of good will come out of this.

“You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see another player push his team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God bless.”

  • Following the Tigers' win over the Troy Trojans in 2016, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson may have had his own pledge-worthy moment during a Monday meeting with the media. The Tiger signal caller bared his soul, apologizing to the media, the fans and his teammates, and vowing to fix the problem.

“I just really want to apologize to you guys (the media) and all the fans and just enjoy it because this opportunity is very rare,” Watson said. “Next year, who knows what will happen. I just want to apologize to ya’ll because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance."

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“This past weekend -- you could feel the energy just starting with me being the leader of the team,” Watson continued. “Not really enjoying it. You can tell my body language has been bad and then it kind of spreads throughout the team and then it spreads out to the fans and you can just feel the energy in the stadium and you can tell people aren’t really excited about our game.

“You just got to live in the moment and embrace the moment. It took a long time to put a smile on my face and over the course of my lifetime with my experience on and off the field, it’s just a blessing and I’m happy to be here.”

That season turned with Watson's pledge – eventually ending with the Tigers hoisting the national championship trophy.

And while Lawrence has yet to have to offer a mea culpa in the way that Tebow and Watson have, one has to think that what happened a Saturday ago may signal a start of something special for the 2019 Tigers.

"It actually meant a lot to the defense, actually it caught me off guard seeing it," Williams said. "Honestly, because I came on later and then I saw Trevor walking off the field, encouraging guys, picking them up. And honestly, that gave us a little boost like OK, we know we've got the offense behind us. And it wasn't just Trevor either. It was Gage, a lot of the O-linemen telling us to push through, that they got us, that we were going to work together. It was really encouraging to hear."

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia. He is editor of www.ClemsonMaven.io

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