Trevor Lawrence hasn't seen live action on a Saturday of college football since Oct. 24, the longest in-season stretch that the Clemson quarterback has ever gone without playing football in his life.
That's expected to finally change Saturday at 3:30 when the No. 4 Tigers (7-1) take on Pittsburgh at Memorial Stadium. Will Lawrence be able to shake off the rust and look like one of the nation's best football players despite the long layoff? Could Clemson give him some easy throws to break him back in or will he have to go pedal to the metal from the start?
"The game plan will be the same as it would have been if I played every week," Lawrence said. "That's what I want. I don't think anything will change. I've been practicing the last three weeks or two and a half weeks so I still feel good. Obviously, actually playing and performing on Saturday hasn't been there but I feel good with how we prepare and practice to get me ready."
It's one thing to be injured and have to rehab to get back on the field. Lawrence has been relatively healthy for the entire month off; he's had to sit around and do a lot of waiting. He found out on Oct. 29 that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
The Cartersville, Ga., native sat out the Boston College game two days later during his quarantine, and he wasn't able to get back on the field by the Nov. 7 contest at Notre Dame because of cardiac and lung tests that he still had to undergo.
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Lawrence was sure he would be back for the Florida State game last Saturday, and technically he was. The junior practiced during Clemson's open date the week before and traveled with the team to Tallahassee.
He was ready to take the QB position back from freshman D.J. Uiagalelei, but FSU had other plans. Once the Seminoles back out of the game because of COVID-19 concerns, Lawrence realized how long it would be before he could play again.
"I think that was for me the most disappointing thing was just not playing for a month," Lawrence said about learning of the postponement. "I feel like I had a really good week of practice. The whole team, the whole offense for sure had a really good week of practice and preparation. We were ready to go and then I felt like I was in a good spot and last minute obviously the game got canceled so that was for me just frustrating because I wouldn't be on the field."
It's reasonable to believe he'll need a little time to get back in rhythm with the offense, even though he's had plenty of time to practice. Pitt (5-4) could present some interesting challenges this week as its defense is third in the ACC in yards allowed per game (311.8) and first nationally with 40 sacks.
But for Lawrence, who's savoring every moment in what very well could be his final home game as a Clemson Tiger, he's just happy to see this long layoff finally come to an end.
"Obviously, just having to miss two games and a bye week, was already going to be three weeks," said Lawrence, whose Heisman Trophy chances are dim. "Now an extra one so it's weird, but I'm ready to get back for sure."