Trevor Lawrence took the reps coach Urban Meyer said he needed, and now has a taste of success going into the regular season. Jacksonville’s rookie No 1 overall pick completed 11 of 12 passes for 139 yards and two scores in three possessions against Dallas backups, and the Jaguars beat the Cowboys 34-14 in a preseason finale on Sunday.
The former Clemson star had just one field goal to show for eight drives in his first two exhibition games. Lawrence changed that quickly four days after Meyer named him the starter, and a day after the Jaguars traded likely backup and fan favorite Gardner Minshew.
Pharoh Cooper caught Lawrence’s first TD toss on the opening possession for Jacksonville, an 18-yarder on the sideline in the end zone that was set up by a 38-yard toe-dragging catch from Phillip Dorsett II. After a short touchdown run from Carlos Hyde was called back by a holding penalty, Lawrence connected with Laviska Shenault Jr for a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Cowboys needed the final preseason game to decide whether Cooper Rush, Garrett Gilbert or perhaps somebody outside the organization will back up Dak Prescott. While Gilbert bounced back from a rough outing to lead an 80-yard drive capped by his 19-yard scoring toss to Aaron Parker, Rush didn’t do anything to damage the edge he seemed to create by outplaying Gilbert a week earlier.
Rush was four of eight for 16 yards in three scoreless possessions, while Gilbert finished nine of 16 for 87 yards with the score. QB coach Doug Nussmeier ran the offense instead of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, a twist Dallas coach Mike McCarthy likes to use late in the preseason to give other coaches play-calling experience.
In explaining why the future of the franchise would play in a preseason finale, Meyer said Lawrence simply needed the reps, and they kept coming even after most of the starting offensive linemen had gone to the sideline for good.
Mixing mostly quick drops and rollouts, the Jaguars kept their prized QB out of harm’s away except for Ron’Dell Carter’s roughing penalty when he appeared to make contact with Lawrence’s facemask on a hit just as the QB threw a pass.