by Austin Silvey @SilveyESP
As one decade closes, another is set to begin. College Football has changed a lot in the last ten years. A new playoff format was introduced, constant rule changes flooded the game, and the level of talent overall seems to get better and better.
There is no telling what this next decade holds for college football, but we do know one thing.....it’s first championship game is one for the ages (or the decade at least) and will feature two prominent quarterbacks.
Trevor Lawrence's and Joe Burrow's respective paths to get to this point are quite different but their futures may hold a very similar outcome. Both are expected to be the first overall pick in the next two NFL Drafts; Burrow in 2020 and Lawrence in 2021.
"I think quarterback position is the most important position in all of sport. I think myself and Trevor are the two best in the game right now. I think that's a big reason why both teams are here." - Joe Burrow, QB (LSU)
Burrow started his college career at Ohio State before transferring to LSU as a graduate prior to the 2018 season. While last year was average at best, Burrow's 2019 season has been historical and that's putting it lightly. His awards list is long and includes the Heisman Trophy, the AP National Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award and many more.
Through the 14 games leading up to the National Championship, Burrow threw 55 touchdown passes, 5,208 yards, completed 20 or more passes in every game (17 straight games going back to last season), and has completed 77.6% of his passes. Below are some more numbers for Burrow this year....
Trevor Lawrence got off to a slower start this season but finished it strong. Through the first seven games of the season, Lawrence was 121/190 (63.7%) for 1,534 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His last seven games, he is 129/180 (71.7%) for 1,897 yards, 22 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Overall, Lawrence is 25-0 as a starter at Clemson and has a chance to be 26-0 heading into his junior season with two National Championships under his belt.
Here are some things both QBs had to say at the National Championship Media Day on Saturday....
JOE BURROW, QB - LSU
"Yeah, I think that's how it's supposed to be in the national championship game, the two best. That's what we've wanted all year, is to play the best. We've played a lot of really good teams. Clemson is obviously the best. They've made it this far."
"I think we're going to be ready for them. I think they're a really good team, have a lot of speed, have a good plan. But I think it's going to be a big challenge for us. I think we'll be ready."
"We're 14-0. That's exactly where we expected to be. I just try to do anything I can to win games, whether it's throw for 500 yards or throw for 150 yards. Doesn't matter to me, as long as we win."
[question about Heisman]
"Not really. I wanted to be here, talking to you guys, when everyone else is at home getting ready to watch us."
Was there one big game that was the turning point?
"I think everyone wants to point to one moment as a turning point. I don't think there was. We felt all off-season that we had worked hard to be a championship football team. I knew that we could be, as long as we practiced with intensity and focused on getting better every day."
"So I don't think there is one turning point. I think there's been a lot of cumulative actions that have gone into this going from last year to January to February. It all kind of piled up."
[Question about Trevor and hair]
"Before I cut my hair, I would have to go with me. His is flowing right now. I like his."
What do you most admire about Trevor as a football player? Does he possess any skill set that you wish you had?
"I wish I was three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. I mean, the best thing he does is just win, 25-0, something like that, as a starter. That's just something that not a lot of people can do, no matter what conference you play in, who you're playing. He hasn't lost yet. That's the number one thing."
[on Isaiah Simmons]
"I think what he does best is when they just let him roam the field in the middle and read my eyes, just get all the different throws through the middle of the field. I think he's really, really good at that. He's really fast, super explosive, good tackler. He's super tough to defend when he's running that middle of the field."
"I'm going to have to look him off. I'm going to have to find him every play. Depending where they put him, they do a lot of different things. So you got to know where he is all the time to know what defense they're trying to do, where they're trying to move him to do different things."
TREVOR LAWRENCE, QB - CLEMSON
What's the biggest advantage of being in this position for a second time around, being in this spot?
"I don't know how big the advantage is really. I think it's just from an experience standpoint it feels good knowing you've been here, kind of how the week is going to go. Other than that, I don't think it helps too much. The game is going to be won on the field."
[on Joe Burrow]
"Obviously what he's done speaks for itself. And anyone that's watched him knows he's a special player and just a great player. So I think people get a little too caught up in just me versus him. It's us versus them as far as a team. So it's going to be the best team's going to win the game."
"And he's a great player and obviously we're both going to impact the game, but at the end of the day the best team's going to win."
"I think when I watch him, the best thing is just his ability to extend plays. Obviously from the pocket he's really good. But just his ability to, when everything breaks down, to extend the play, either run or keep his eyes downfield and complete a pass. I think that's really special."
"Then just the way he plays the game, he's really smooth, really accurate. You don't really see him missing, overthrowing guys. He's just a really good player. I think those things, especially his accuracy, are really impressive." - Trevor Lawrence, QB - CLEMSON [on Joe Burrow]
"I've got a lot of respect, especially in his journey and what he's had to go through to get where he's at, really worked for what he has. And he does a lot does a lot of things, really accurate, really good in the pocket, keeps his eyes down field."
"And also running the ball, he does a good job finding plays outside the pocket and you're taking what the defense gives him, as far as if there's a running lane or whatever it is. He's really good at that. Throws on the run really well. Just anything you can think of he does well pretty much."
[difference between Ohio St & LSU]
"There's a lot of differences, all around the board these guys have more speed, LSU does. That will be a challenge. But they also do a little bit more as far as coverages and mixing things up, disguising than Ohio State did."
"Ohio State kept it simple but they just did a really good job what they were doing. They were in cover 3 and cover 1, and they threw in a couple different things, but other than that they kept it pretty simple. They were really good at it. LSU, they mix it up a good bit."
[about playing or sitting out next year]
"I think it's just people who don't understand college football and what I came here to do. And just to be a part of a school like Clemson and a team like this is really special to me. I wouldn't throw that year away to just sit out in case of injury or whatever it may be."
"So I think just those people don't understand the position that we're in and it's not just about money or whatever. It's about just being part of a team and really enjoying being with the guys that you've been here with the past couple of years."
"I never thought about sitting out or doing any of that. I don't want to do that."
"So for me, like I said, it's just being with these guys that I've been with the past few years and really finishing and trying to go out on the right note."
"I think just realizing, just enjoying the moment where I am right now and realizing I have at least one more year, maybe two. So it's just not that close yet and just enjoying where I'm at. This time is special, like I said, just for Clemson and for college football."
"This is a really cool thing we get to be a part of. I think if you look too far ahead you miss out on the joy of this moment."
[what winning the title would mean]
"I think a couple things. I think it gives us a lot of momentum going into next year, winning this game, but also this group of seniors and juniors that may leave and just all those guys that won't be here next year, I think it's a really big game just to cement their legacy in Clemson."
"Three National Championships looks a lot better than two. And just what they've been able to do. I forget how many wins they've had; the senior class has been really special."
"But really just the biggest thing is just a goal we set out for. And I don't think a lot of people really believed in us necessarily. And we believe in ourselves and just worked for it and it's going to be really special to be able to accomplish that."