Clemson football superlatives at the midpoint of the season:
Kelly Bryant has far-and-away been Clemson’s most important player on offense through six games, not only for his play on the field, but for his leadership. Bryant has stayed calm during tough road environments and against tough defenses and has led the Tigers to three top 15 wins.
The junior’s play on the field has been impressive as well. Bryant leads the Tigers in rushing with 401 yards, rushing touchdowns with seven and has passed for 1,259 yards and four scores.
Dorian O’Daniel has turned into a star for the Tigers and is playing linebacker as well as anyone in the country. The senior leads the Tigers in tackles with 48 and interceptions with two. He is one of six players in the nation with two interceptions returned for a touchdown.
Part of what makes O’Daniel so good is his versatility. He is big and strong enough to stop the run but is also quick and possesses good ball skills. He has done a great job covering slot receivers.
There were plenty of people questioning if Bryant and Clemson, with a cast of new characters on offense, were ready to go on the road and knock off the Heisman trophy winner in Bryant’s first road start of his career. But the Tigers humiliated Louisville and Lamar Jackson 47-21 in prime time on national television with College Gameday in town.
The dominant performance served as an early indication that Clemson was going to be fine without Deshaun Watson, and the Tigers are once again College Football Playoff contenders.
While Dorian O’Daniel has been Clemson’s Defensive MVP, Austin Bryant isn’t far behind. The junior was a bit of a question mark coming into the season as Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell wereproven starters. But through six games Bryant that leads the Tigers in tackles for loss with 11 and sacks with five.
Bryant is a freak athlete at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, and he showed off his athletic ability with an interception at Virginia Tech. The Hokies were trying to set up a screen when Bryant read the play, watched the quarterback’s eyes and hauled in a one-handed interception in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Clemson is playing a ton of freshmen, but none have been more impressive than running back Travis Etienne. The Louisiana native entered the season as the No. 4 running back and is currently No. 1 or No. 2.
Etienne has yet to start, but he leads Clemson’s running backs in yards with 378 and touchdowns with five and he received the most carries last weekend against Wake Forest.
The best moment for Clemson through the first six weeks did not occur during a game but after a practice. In early October, Clemson student Clary Miles crashed his car near the Tigers’ practice facility. Clemson student athletic trainers, managers and staff provided aid to Miles.
Several Clemson staffers swam across the river surrounding the practice fields and helped remove Miles from his car and onto land. Tigers coach Dabo Swinney gathered his team and began praying for Miles as he was being removed from the car. Miles is currently out of the hospital and continuing to recover at home.