The most important player on Clemson and perhaps in all of college football has tested positive for COVID-19. What do bettors need to know?
When Can Trevor Lawrence Return?
Clemson tests players three times a week for COVID-19. Trevor Lawrence tested positive in the last batch of tests, which was on Wednesday. Every ACC team adheres to the CDC’s guidelines. These guidelines require players who test positive to self-isolate for at least 10 days.
The 10-day period begins, at the latest when the player tested positive. It could begin when the player began experiencing symptoms. So, if Lawrence did not begin experiencing symptoms before Wednesday, then Wednesday would count as day one.
If Wednesday is day one, then the best-case scenario is that Lawrence recovers — meaning that he loses his fever and respiratory symptoms — as soon as possible, passes all the required medical tests, and he travels by himself on Saturday, November 7. This would need to happen in order to play in what will hopefully be a night game.
While Lawrence wouldn’t get any reps in practice, the point is that he could play on November 7. He won’t play this upcoming Saturday. But November 7 is a much more important date for the Tigers. Whereas they are heavy favorites on the College Football Odds board as they face Boston College this Saturday, they will have to face Notre Dame on November 7.
Before Lawrence’s positive test was announced, sportsbooks like BetOnline and Bovada had the Tigers favored by 31 points against Boston College. After the announcement, the line dropped multiple points at different sports betting websites. Those two books saw the line drop to -27.
With your College Football Betting Picks, you’ll want to consider how many points Lawrence should be worth. In order to make this consideration, you have to look at the man who will be starting in his place.
Lawrence’s top backup is the former five-star recruit, freshman D.J. Uiagalelei. 247Sports ranked Uiagalelei as 10th-best in the nation, second-best at his position, and as the best among pro-style quarterbacks. 247Sports gave him a 101 rating. It gave Lawrence the same rating in 2018.
Analysts cite his unique arm strength and the fluidity with which footballs leave his hand. They also stress that he is much more than a big arm. He displays skilled touch, reliable accuracy, and the ability to buy time when under pressure while keeping his eyes downfield.
The above analysis stems from January, which is when 247Sports published its final rankings. So he’s surely improved since then, at least at practice.
Since Clemson regularly blows out its opponents, he has seen playing time. Currently, he’s completed 12 of 19 pass attempts for 102 yards. He saw most of his action against The Citadel. Take a look at the following video:
At 12:02, you see his ability to escape pressure, to stay focused downfield, and to locate and hit an open target while running to his left and throwing back across his body.
In general, he’s surprisingly mobile for a 6-4, 250-pounder. He’ll do some designed runs where he shows his patience waiting for lanes to open up and his toughness against contact. He can be difficult to bring down due to his size.
Go to 1:10 in the following video:
You see him recover from a bad snap, step up in the pocket, and, while on the move, launch a pass downfield that gives his wide receiver a chance of catching it.
Overall, it’s clear that he possesses an attractive toolset and tremendous talent. He’ll get to see four quarters of action as he makes his first start this Saturday against Boston College.
In general, he hasn’t thrown downfield often and hasn’t attempted many difficult passes so far. Expect him to be eased into Saturday’s contest by attempting shorter passes that require him to move a bit and by handing the ball off more frequently.
Assessing Player Worth
Lawrence’s absence provides a strong betting opportunity because it is a unique situation that calls us to consider how many points Lawrence is worth. I don’t think that four points do justice to college football’s top quarterback. So I would think that the line drops further.
Lawrence is playing in his third year, and he’s improved at least statistically in each one. He’s completing 70.7 percent of his passes, which is 7.5 percent higher than Uiagalelei while playing against starters.
Unlike Uiagalelei, Lawrence is extremely comfortable throwing downfield in games. He’s averaging 9.6 YPA, whereas Uiagalelei is averaging 5.4 YPA. So it’s clearly more important to consider not primarily his recruiting rank and talent level but his development on the field. In games, Uiagalelei is raw.