Why Clemson QB Kelly Bryant is excited for first college start
Clemson’s coaching staff is not hiding the fact that it plans to play all three of its quarterbacks in Saturday’s opener against Kent State.
How much each plays will be dictated by the flow of the game, the score and how well the quarterbacks are performing, Tigers co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said.
First-year starter Kelly Bryant isn’t worried that one errant pass could send him to the bench.
“Coaches told me just go out there and play. Don’t focus on how much time I’m going to be in there,” Bryant said Monday. “Just do your job while you’re out there, and the rest will take care of itself.”
Bryant attended nearby Wren High and has had aspirations of being Clemson’s starting quarterback since being recruited by the Tigers.
“It’s always been a dream of mine, running down the hill and taking the first snaps as a quarterback being the starter,” Bryant said. “I want to keep living the dream every Saturday that I’m here.”
In order to do that, Bryant will need to continue to outperform Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson.
The two freshmen were not shocked when Bryant was named starter because coach Dabo Swinney and quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter had relayed to them throughout the battle that Bryant was in the lead.
But just because they were not named the starters for Week 1 does not mean they are content with a backup role.
“They understand that it’s not a sprint, but it’s a marathon. There’s a lot of ball to be played,” Scott said. “We’re pleased that we’ve got a solid group of quarterbacks that we have a lot of faith in. It’s not just about one guy and then everybody else is just backups on a shelf.”
Whoever is playing quarterback on Saturday, don’t expect the offense to change much throughout the game.
Scott said Bryant, Cooper and Johnson can make plays with their arm or feet.
“They’ve each had their moments in our practices where they were able to escape, and part of our philosophy is the quarterback will be counted on to be a runner,” Scott said. “We feel like all of those guys can do that. I don’t feel like there’s huge differences between those guys that would cause us to change stuff while they’re in there.”
Bryant has had more success in the running game than in the passing game in his limited opportunities, but the junior is anxious to show that he has improved as a passer.
He is not feeling any pressure entering his first start as a college quarterback.
“There’s not pressure,” Bryant said. “I don’t feel like I have anything to prove because I’ve known what type of player I’ve been and have been working toward and have been ever since I’ve been here. Now it’s just (time) to go show it on Saturdays.”
Who: Clemson vs. Kent State
When/where: Noon Saturday, Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Line: Clemson by 40