Top-ranked Clemson barely squeaked by against Boston College Saturday, needing a barrage of 24 unanswered points to avoid what would have been a monumental upset. Unfortunately, it won’t get any easier for the Tigers with ace quarterback Trevor Lawrence slated to miss his second straight game next week at No. 4 Notre Dame. Lawrence, who projects as the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft (assuming he leaves Death Valley, which is apparently not a given), tested positive for COVID on Thursday and is required to quarantine at least 10 days, per NCAA regulations.
“He’s doing great,” assured coach Dabo Swinney in comments to ESPN’s Andrea Adelson. “Even if he feels great, he could probably go play, he's not allowed to do that simply because of the protocols. They're put in place to make sure he could return to play safely.”
Along with returning a negative COVID test, the junior from Cartersville, Georgia, must also pass a cardiac exam. Once those hurdles are cleared, Lawrence can resume practicing. Though he won’t be permitted on the field until then, the 21-year-old will continue to attend all team meetings on a virtual basis. “Obviously can't play, but he can still make a contribution with his presence,” said Swinney. “He'll do everything he can via Zoom.”
Everything seems to be on the up and up with Lawrence, though navigating the undefeated Irish without their best player won’t be an easy assignment for the Tigers, who haven’t lost a regular-season game since they were stunned by Syracuse in 2017. D.J. Uiagelelei, the second-ranked quarterback in last year’s recruitment class, performed admirably in his starting debut, throwing for 342 yards while leading a second-half comeback in Saturday’s 34-28 win over Boston College.
Though Lawrence, who is tentatively slated to return against Florida State on November 21st, will no doubt be missed, Tigers offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has the utmost confident in Uiagelelei to carry the torch against Notre Dame.
“Nobody's going to feel sorry for us. We've all got to be ready,” said Elliott, well aware that Notre Dame will be in attack mode when the Tigers invade South Bend. “Now [Uiagalelei's] got some experience, not going to ask him to go out there and do anything other than just be yourself, manage the plan and make the plays that are there."
That game can be seen next Saturday at 7:30 PM ET on NBC.