Matt Connolly

5 gameday storylines for Clemson opener vs. Kent State

1. How will Kelly Bryant perform in his first start?

The last time Clemson’s starting quarterback performed in front of a crowd he was 4-for-13 passing for 43 yards in the Tigers’ spring game. Bryant worked hard this offseason to improve his passing and believes he is a different player at quarterback than he was then. The Tigers should roll even if Bryant doesn’t play well, but the timing of the offense and how often he connects on deep passes will be worth monitoring. Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson will also get an opportunity to play and try to show that they are the better option at QB moving forward.

2. Freshmen get their first shot

The Tigers brought in a talented recruiting class with some playmakers on offense that should get plenty of opportunities on Saturday. Freshmen receivers Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins received praise throughout the preseason after arriving as highly-rated recruits, while freshman running back Travis Etienne was singled out by coaches and players as being a big surprise and the team’s most natural runner.

3. New additions to the stadium

There are new signs on the concourses in the stadium that tell the story of the 1981 and 2016 national title teams. There is also a new national championship sign that will be unveiled on the south side façade in pregame. On the brick outside the stadium behind Howard’s Rock there is a part of the wall now honoring the 1981 and 2016 national title teams.

4. How will Logan Rudolph hold up?

Clemson freshman Logan Rudolph has earned a backup role at defensive end as the Tigers are very thin at the position. Rudolph will need shoulder surgery at some point but is going to try to play through the pain for now. Rudolph has managed the pain in practice but will test it out in a game on Saturday where it will be harder to avoid taking a hit on his shoulder. The Tigers are already without Richard Yeargin for the year and can’t avoid to have another contributor go down.

5. Who starts at cornerback?

The Tigers are very deep at corner and have several candidates to start opposite Ryan Carter. Marcus Edmond, Mark Fields, Trayvon Mullen and Amir Trapp have been mentioned by the coaching staff as players that will receive plenty of playing time. Each would like to start, and it will be interesting to see who gets that opportunity. Whoever starts will have to play well to start again next week against Auburn as the position is very fluid for now.

Game info

When: 12:02 p.m. Saturday

Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson

TV: ESPN

Line: Clemson by 40

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