Clemson got two impressive touchdown runs from its No. 3 quarterback against Miami on Saturday, which may make that No. 3 quarterback – freshman Kelly Bryant – the Tigers’ No. 2 quarterback by the time this Saturday’s game at N.C. State rolls around.
“It’s a game of performance, and Kelly has moved up,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday.
Bryant, a freshman out of Wren High School, is listed as the team’s co-second team quarterback with Nick Schuessler on the Tigers’ latest depth chart, but that could change.
“We’ll know by the end of the week who that guy will be,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “The competition is open, but Kelly Bryant has shown flashes of what he can do with the ball in his hands.”
Bryant entered the Miami game with 13:11 remaining and promptly had a big impact. On his fourth play, Bryant broke free for a 59-yard touchdown run.
On the fourth play of Clemson’s ensuing possession, he scored again, this time on a 10-yard run.
“He made a move today, he really did,” Swinney said after the Tigers’ 58-0 win at Miami. “It has been a very healthy situation, being able to bring him along at a healthy pace for him.
“Kelly has been steadily grasping things. I love how (quarterbacks Coach Brandon) Streeter has handled him. He had a lot to process and a lot to learn. It’s been fun to watch his confidence and demeanor grow and change over the last few weeks.”
Bryant and Schuessler have been splitting repetitions equally in practice, and that should continue this week.
“I’m just trying to take advantage of my reps and get a feel for how Nick goes about his preparation,” Bryant said. “I’ve learned that the game can slow down for you if you just relax and enjoy the moment and trust in coaches and teammates and just play rather than just think.”
Bryant has 95 yards rushing this season on 14 carries, an average of 6.8 yards per attempt. He has attempted only six passes but has completed five.
“He’s a guy who has improved drastically, but he had the furthest to go,” Swinney said. “Obviously he’s a great athlete, but being a great quarterback is a different thing at this level. He has the same aptitude, ability and potential as (starting quarterback) Deshaun (Watson), but his foundation wasn’t the same. He had a lot more to learn about our system when he got here. But his work ethic is off the charts.”
Tigers vs. Wolfpack
Who: No. 3 Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC) at N.C. State (5-2, 1-2)
When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh
Line: Clemson by 10