Clemson University

Clemson should try to get its passing game on track against The Citadel

Kelly Bryant on leading Clemson to ACC title game

Junior has Tigers 9-1 entering The Citadel game
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Junior has Tigers 9-1 entering The Citadel game

Clemson is running out of time to start making the layups.

Throughout the 2017 season the Tigers’ coaching staff has said that Kelly Bryant and his receivers are leaving too many opportunities on the field.

Clemson isn’t concerned about Bryant making throws into tight windows or receivers coming down with tough grabs in traffic. But when guys are open for a simple pitch and catch it wants the play, or the layup as the coaching staff has described it, to be made.

Clemson has had chances to put some teams away but has missed some big plays in the passing game. Sometimes Bryant has been at fault. Other times it has been his receivers.

Clemson was averaging 346 passing yards per game through the first 10 games of 2016 and had thrown for 29 touchdowns. At the same time this year the Tigers are averaging less than 216 passing yards per game and have nine passing touchdowns.

Bryant is completing a high percentage of his passes but not many of them have been down field.

“Overall we go back and study ourselves and kind of compare where we were this year to last year. Last year at this point Deshaun (Watson) had completed 66 percent of his passes. This year through 10 games Kelly has completed 65 percent,” Tigers co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “The biggest difference is those five or six deep balls that could really make up the difference for where we want to be.”

Clemson will have an opportunity to connect on some of those this weekend against The Citadel.

The Bulldogs allowed 56 points and 261 passing yards last weekend against Furman and Clemson should use this game as an opportunity to build confidence between Bryant and his receivers before a tough two-game stretch at South Carolina and against Miami.

The Tigers are 9-1 and ranked No. 2 in the College Football Playoff thanks mostly to a strong running game and a stout defense. If Clemson is going to repeat as national champions it will need the passing game to do its part as well.

The Tigers can take a step in the right direction by throwing the ball around and connecting on some deep passes against the Bulldogs.

“We know we can do it because we’ve done it this year. We’ve won some big games early in the year throwing and catching against some very talented secondaries,” Scott said. “We do it every day in practice. But unfortunately the last few games we haven’t connected on as many plays down the field as we want to.”