The task was made to be difficult for Silver Bluff's Jaylen Lawrence last week. All he needed to do in his first start as a varsity quarterback was lead the Silver Bluff Bulldogs into Johnston for a season opener against the third ranked Class AAA team in the state. Not to mention, there was the added hype of the game being televised, as well as it being the first played in Strom Thurmond's newly renovated stadium.
“I was kind of nervous before the game, but as it went on, it got better,” Lawrence said. “But I feel much better and more confident now that I got that first one out the way.”
Although Silver Bluff didn't come out with the victory, Lawrence performed well considering the circumstances. Now that he has had the experience of starting a game, he is looking forward to building on last Friday's game and getting better.
“I'm going to work on keeping my head up when I'm passing mostly,” Lawrence said before practice Tuesday. “I'm going to be trying to keep the team on track, run the office as best I can and be a leader out there.”
The senior did a good job of running the offense on Friday, and earned the praise of his head coach Al Lown. Lawrence went 5 of 8 on pass attempts for 68 yards. His night as a passer was highlighted by a play that broke down originally, but resulted in him finding McKenzie Wilson for a touchdown. For Lown, it was the effort that stood out.
“I was extremely pleased with the effort. We're obviously going against a bigger, stronger team and they had a lot more people than we did, but we fought hard for four quarters,” Lown said. “Jaylen was a big part of that. He made some big plays out there, so I was pleased.”
Lown has stayed true to his philosophy of not changing much in the offense just because of the change at quarterback. Though the team doesn't pass often, he is still confident that Lawrence can make any throw they need him to.
Lawrence spent a majority of his time last season at defensive back, where he earned All-Aiken Standard team honors. The transition to offense is a change for him, but he said it was nothing he can't handle.
“I've played quarterback before, so the adjustment isn't too bad,” Lawrence said. “It's different, but it wasn't hard to adjust to.”
He is still a factor on the defensive side of the ball however. In fact, Lown said one of the plays he was most impressed by on Friday was a defensive stop Lawrence made on the opposite side of the field. The effort shown on that play is another reason Lown feels good about his senior quarterback.
“If we get that kind of effort every week, we're going to be in pretty good shape,” Lown said.
Eric Russell covers sports for The Aiken Standard. He graduated from USC Aiken in 2012 with a degree in communications.