Clemson’s Lawrence confident, set for opener vs Georgia Tech

              FILE - In this April 6, 2019, file photo, Clemson's Travis Etienne (9) rushes out of the tackle attempt by Derion Kendrick during Clemson's annual Orange and White NCAA college football spring scrimmage in Clemson, S.C. Etienne is one of three Clemson Tigers selected an AP preseason All-American along with quarterback Trevor Lawrence and linebacker Isaiah Simmons. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro, File)

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence seems poised to become the biggest deal in college football.

Lawrence appears cool, calm and more confident than he was last season when he helped the Tigers win their second national championship in three years .

Clemson’s journey to repeat starts Thursday night when the top-ranked Tigers open the season hosting Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Georgia Tech. Lawrence, the 6-foot-6 sophomore, led the Tigers (15-0 last season) to the national title after becoming the starter and he capped off the season with a stunning performance in a 44-16 win over Alabama in the championship game.

“I’m still the same person,” Lawrence said. “The only thing that comes from success is having a little bit more confidence.”

Lawrence believes it comes from knowing he’s the starter instead of fighting for the job as he had to last year when he came into school as a highly promising freshman.

Lawrence continued to work as he competed against returning starter Kelly Bryant for the job. But after four games, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney anointed Lawrence his starter. The popular Bryant transferred — he’ll start for Missouri on Saturday — and Clemson rolled to the title.

The offense averaged better than 45 points a game the rest of season. Lawrence threw for 3,280 yards and 30 touchdowns, including three against the Crimson Tide.

Now, Lawrence believes the Tigers can pick up where they left off.

“We have so many great playmakers, it’s nice to be the quarterback and have options,” Lawrence said.

He also said he’s improved his mechanics, including his footwork and ability to read defenses. Lawrence is more willing to challenge teammates to dig in and focus during tough times.

“We want to be the best offense in the country,” he said. “That’s one of our goals and I think we have the talent to do that.”

The Tigers figure to get things going quickly against the Yellow Jackets (7-6 last season) , who have changed defensive schemes under new coach Geoff Collins .

Tech defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker understands the challenge they’ll face in Lawrence.

“He’s unbelievable at making all the variety of throws. He’s not known as a runner but very good at just pocket presence and just escaping,” Thacker said. “I can’t compliment him enough.”