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Sport No. 1 Clemson comfortable building depth, not player resumes

23:30  26 september  2019
23:30  26 september  2019 Source:   ap.org

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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence knows sitting and watching when the Tigers have big leads is no way to win a Heisman Trophy.

a football player running on a baseball field: Clemson's Travis Etienne (9) rushes out of the backfield with blocking help from John Simpson (74) while Charlotte's Marquavis Gibbs defends during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)© APWF Clemson's Travis Etienne (9) rushes out of the backfield with blocking help from John Simpson (74) while Charlotte's Marquavis Gibbs defends during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

It is, he said, it is a way for the top-ranked Tigers to continue their quest for a second straight national title.

Lawrence, a Heisman contender when the season began, left a few seconds into the second quarter after his second touchdown pass and Clemson ahead 24-0 and cruising to 52-10 win over Charlotte Saturday night. He knows other high-profile players like Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts put up large yardage numbers and scores of TD passes game after game.

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The 6-foot-6 Lawrence said he's content on the sidelines as the country's tallest cheerleader.

''I feel like that's what makes this place special,'' Lawrence said. ''That guys get opportunities. I love that and if I were in their shoes I would want the same thing.''

The Tigers (4-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) head to North Carolina (2-2, 1-1) on Saturday.

Lawrence watched four of his backups, including fifth stringer Patrick McClure, play behind center. In all, Clemson played a school record 111 Tigers in the blowout win.

a person wearing a costume: Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence watches from the sideline during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Charlotte on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)© APWF Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence watches from the sideline during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Charlotte on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

''If we leave Trevor Lawrence out there, he could have had all kind of stats and could have been written up for the Heisman this week, but we (aren't) interested in that,'' Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. ''We are just interested in winning the game, winning with class and not getting anybody hurt. Those type of things and grow our team.''

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The majority of the team's starters, including reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year in tailback Travis Etienne were out by halftime.

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables let some of his starters get a few second half snaps before heading to the sidelines.

Tigers co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said pulling starters when possible has helped the Tigers the past three seasons, two of them ending in national champions in 2016 and last season.

''As we get to the end season because we've played a lot of guys, we've stayed fresh and we've gotten that competitive depth,'' he said.

That was certainly critical a year ago when junior All-American defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence was suspended for the College Football Playoffs after he and two teammates tested positive for the banned substance ostarine. Backups Albert Huggins, Nyles Pinckney and Jordan Williams rotated through Lawrence's spot and the defensive front barely missed a beat in topping Notre Dame in the semifinals and Alabama for the championship.

A win — or even a tight game — against Clemson could be a program changer for UNC

  A win — or even a tight game — against Clemson could be a program changer for UNC CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Earlier this month, after North Carolina's 28-25 upset victory over Miami, joyous Tar Heel fans leaving Kenan Stadium began to chant, "We want Clemson!" On Saturday, those fans will get their wish. But the Tar Heels, after opening the season 2-0, are on a downward skid. The No. 1 Tigers, who won the national title in January, are not. UNC (2-2, 1-0 ACC) will host Clemson (4-0, 1-0) in a sold-out game where the Tar Heels are 26.5-point underdogs.“I think they’re real good,” UNC coach Mack Brown said of Clemson at a press conference Monday, when asked what he thought of the number.

a group of baseball players standing on top of a grass covered field: Clemson coach Dabo Swinney congratulates Joseph Ngata after Ngata scored a touchdown against Charlotte during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)© APWF Clemson coach Dabo Swinney congratulates Joseph Ngata after Ngata scored a touchdown against Charlotte during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

North Carolina coach Mack Brown said when was at Texas and his national championship program was in contention each year, he got many players into games that were well in hand.

''We had all of our starters out usually after the first series of the third quarter in most of our games at Texas when we were really good,'' Brown said. ''And I mean, everybody's happy. And everybody's fresh, because they don't play that much.''

Clemson's Venables acknowledges the fine line between keeping players sharp and keeping them fresh. ''But it's a long season and you're going to have some injuries and you've got to develop your team,'' he said. "So they need to play meaningful preparations, too.''

Elliott, who saw nine of his running backs get a carry, said the crispness comes from practicing hard and precise before bringing it into games. The lessons learned during the week, he said, are the ones that stick throughout the season.

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Trevor Lawrence believes he'll have his chance to shine as long as the Tigers continue playing well and adding to their 19-game win streak. And if someone gets hurt, Lawrence knows Clemson will have prepared for the moment where it mattered most - on the field.

''I look at it that way,'' he said. ''I'm just happy those guys get a chance.''

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AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard contributed to this report from Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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Related slideshow: Best of the 2019 college football season (Provided by imagn)

a football player throwing a ball: Georgia Bulldogs running back D'Andre Swift (7) hurdles Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback Shaun Crawford (20) in the third quarter at Sanford Stadium on September 21, 2019.

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Lawrence threw five picks in three games this season after tossing four all of last year.As a true freshman last season, Trevor Lawrence threw four interceptions in nearly 400 pass attempts while completing over 65 percent of his passes en route to helping Clemson claim the 2018 national championship.  In the first three games this season, however, Lawrence had already tossed five picks in 97 attempts.

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