Clemson Football

Kelly Bryant: 'I fill big shoes every day.'

November 13, 2017
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Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant’s season has been a roller coaster.

He had to battle it out in August to be “the guy” to lead Clemson’s offense and has had to prove people wrong ever since he took his first snap against Kent State.

The junior that had to replace arguably the best Clemson player of all time gets criticized every week by fans on his ability to throw the football.

After 316 passing yards at Louisville, those same fans wanted to throw his name in the Heisman Trophy conversation.

After his injury and not being able to be 100 percent against Syracuse, those fans knew how important Bryant was to Clemson’s success.

But here we are.

After a couple lackluster weeks (in some minds) throwing the ball, it’s back to the harsh criticism of, “You can’t win with Kelly Bryant at quarterback.”

Bryant should take the criticism in stride. After all, the first-year starter is 9-1 and led his team to another division championship.

Deshaun Watson seemed to be a complete product, while Bryant and the rest of Clemson’s young offense is a work in progress. What’s similar between the two? They win.

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Kelly Bryant looks on as Deshaun Watson carries the football against Alabama in the 2017 National Title game.

“Kelly has not been perfect, but man, how impressive is that for him to come in and be 9-1, and win a division in his first year starting,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said after Bryant put up 151 passing yards on 20 completions.

“With all the pressure and everything on him, he’s only going to get better.”

People quickly forget that Bryant has only played in ten meaningful games in his career. You got the sense after Saturday’s win that this offense feels so close to hitting its stride. The ground game is there, but the deep balls are not.

Bryant said Monday that his downfield misses have been purely mechanical and he is working every day to correct it with quarterback coach Brandon Streeter.

There are also deep throws where Bryant looked timid to make the throw, like Saturday night when he had a one-one-one coverage situation where he had Cornell Powell open but didn’t throw to him.

There are also deep throws where Bryant looked timid to make the throw, like Saturday night when he had a one-one-one coverage situation where he had Cornell Powell open but didn’t throw to him.

“That’s one where we want him to let that thing rip,” Scott said Monday.

It was another learning experience for Bryant, who Scott said should have come off of his main read and take the one-on-one shot.

But who is to say Deshaun Watson didn’t have any learning experiences along the way during his time at Clemson?

Weren’t his two interceptions in the end zone last season against Pittsburgh one of the reasons Clemson’s undefeated season came to an end?

Things certainly turned out ok for the Tigers after that.

As the season progresses and Clemson climbs higher, Bryant will do the same.

“The biggest thing is you learn every game,” Scott said. “Sometimes we catch ourself with the way that Kelly has been playing and leading this offense this year, and a lot of things are going really well – I think we have won every game that he has started and finished – you kind of catch yourself thinking that he has been out there the last couple of years.

“Just like Deshaun’s freshman year. He had plenty of coaching points and those types of things. (We’ve been) Using those opportunities to really coach those guys up.”

The deep throws have been a visible frustration in this offense, but Scott was quick to point out a comparable stat to this time last year:

People were saying there were big shoes that I had to fill,” Bryant said Monday. “I always said, ‘Well I wear a size-16 shoe so I fill big shoes every day.
- Kelly Bryant

At this point last season, Watson completed 66 percent of his passes.

Through ten games this season, Bryant has completed 65 percent. The only thing missing has been connecting on a couple of deep balls each game that Watson and Mike Williams made look routine. 

The Bryant-Watson comparisons will continue to come as championships become on the table, but Bryant is ready for the challenge and to continue proving people wrong.

“People were saying there were big shoes that I had to fill,” Bryant said Monday. “I always said, ‘Well I wear a size-16 shoe so I fill big shoes every day.’”

He’s not wrong.

Bryant will continue to lead Clemson’s offense and make strides in his own game week after week.

One step at a time.

Discussion from...

Kelly Bryant: 'I fill big shoes every day.'

Ouidadest
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R
Awesome article!!
Tigers Rise
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V
Great work Sanders.
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