ATLANTA — With plenty of family and friends cheering him on, Trevor Lawrence certainly played like a starting quarterback.
Now, the Clemson Tigers have to decide if it's time to push the talented freshman to the top of the depth chart.
Lawrence claimed a leading role in Clemson's quarterback rotation, coming off the bench to throw four touchdown passes as the No. 3 Tigers romped past Georgia Tech 49-21 on Saturday.
"I thought I played well," Lawrence said. "I don't know what's going to happen. I'm just going to keep attacking every week, trying to do all I can to help the team."
After starter Kelly Bryant produced just 13 yards and one first down on Clemson's first two possessions, Lawrence entered the game early in the second quarter. The youngster, a native of nearby Cartersville, quickly guided the Tigers on a seven-play, 74-yard drive capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow that made it 14-0.
Lawrence finished with 176 yards on 13-of-18 passing for the Tigers (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), also connecting with Justyn Ross for a 53-yard score , Travis Etienne on a 3-yard touchdown just before halftime and Tee Higgins for a 30-yard TD in the closing minutes.
Bryant was 6 of 10 passing for 56 yards. The senior quarterback who guided Clemson to the College Football Playoff last season clearly played second fiddle on this day.
Is that going to become a permanent arrangement?
Coach Dabo Swinney wasn't saying.
"We're going to enjoy it tonight," he insisted. "We're not going to set depth charts here in the postgame press conference."
It was a thoroughly dismal performance by Georgia Tech (1-3, 0-2), which is off to its worst start since 2003 and sure to face increasing questions about Paul Johnson's coaching future.
The Yellow Jackets fumbled eight times, recovering seven of them but giving up a touchdown when Clelin Ferrell fell on a loose ball in the end zone for Clemson's first TD . The home team completed just three passes and was held to 146 yards on the ground — not even close to its nation-high rushing average of 392.7 coming into the game.
"We got our tails kicked," Johnson said bluntly.
Georgia Tech's lone score of the first half came after Lawrence tried to set up a screen pass out of the backfield, only to hit an offensive lineman in the back with the short throw . Desmond Branch picked off the deflected ball, returning the gift interception to the Tigers 23.
Four plays later, TaQuon Marshall scored on an 11-yard run to cut Clemson's lead to 21-7, giving Georgia Tech a glimmer of hope with just over 2 minutes left in the first half.
Lawrence quickly snuffed out any thoughts of an upset.
Guiding Clemson down the field like a veteran, Lawrence completed six passes for 54 yards — shoveling a toss to Etienne with five seconds left in the half to restore a commanding three-touchdown edge before the Tigers headed to the locker room.
Many Georgia Tech fans didn't bother returning for the second half on a blistering day with temperatures in the low 90s, leaving a stadium that already was packed with huge swaths of orange-clad fans looking like an Atlanta version of Death Valley.