Matt Connolly

No doubt about it: QB Kelly Bryant expected this success

Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) is brought down by Louisville’s Dorian Etheridge, front right, and Trumaine Washington (15) as he crosses the goal line during the first half Saturday in Louisville, Ky
Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) is brought down by Louisville’s Dorian Etheridge, front right, and Trumaine Washington (15) as he crosses the goal line during the first half Saturday in Louisville, Ky AP

When Kelly Bryant was named Clemson’s starting quarterback, some questioned how long he would be able to keep the job with a couple of young, talented backups chasing him for playing time.

Three weeks into the season, Bryant has put those questions to rest.

The junior was sensational in leading Clemson to a 47-21 win against Louisville this past Saturday, accounting for 342 total yards and three touchdowns.

Through three weeks, Bryant is completing almost 69 percent of his passes for 773 yards and two touchdowns. He also has rushed for 162 yards and five scores while committing just one turnover.

Bryant used the preseason whispers about his job security as motivation.

“They sleep. Just let them sleep on me,” Bryant said after Saturday’s win. “I’ve always been doubted pretty much my whole career so let them keep doubting.”

Bryant had no doubt he could continue to make Clemson’s offense a force while replacing Deshaun Watson.

“I knew what I could do,” he said. “I’m still going to play my game and just do me. I feel like I’ve done some good things, and I feel like I can still improve.”

As the season goes along, Bryant’s teammates and coaches are learning more about him.

Bryant had never started a game before the opener against Kent State. He had never faced a top 25 team or started in prime time before the matchup with Auburn. And he had never started a road game, let alone a road game against a top 15 team, before the meeting at Louisville.

The former Wren star passed all three tests.

“Every week, I’m learning something about him, just like y’all… I hoped he’d man up on the road and lead these guys like a dang competitor and a confident dude. And he did,” coach Dabo Swinney said. “I’m just really proud of him. Nobody’s given him anything. He’s put the time in. He’s learned. He’s paid attention. He has complete ownership of what we’re doing.”

Tigers receiver Ray-Ray McCloud said he was impressed with the way Bryant bounced back from taking hard hits against the Cardinals.

“His toughness,” McCloud said of what impressed him the most about Bryant. “We don’t really get to see a quarterback get hit when you can’t touch him in practice. In the game, the way he’s carrying people, the way that play after play he’s toting the football, that just shows the heart he has.”

McCloud was in the same recruiting class as Bryant and has seen him make plays in practice for three years.

“What he’s shown is stuff we’ve been seeing since he got here,” McCloud said. “Kelly just waited his time, has kept his faith and now it’s coming to light. What he’s been doing in the dark is what the nation is finally seeing.”

Game info

Who: Clemson (3-0) vs. Boston College (1-2)

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Memorial Stadium

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 93.1 FM

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