After five games, it’s clear. Kelly Bryant is not a Deshaun Watson clone.
And Clemson is absolutely OK with that. The junior is a uniquely talented quarterback who leads the team in his own right, and it’s becoming tough to argue he isn’t just as capable of piloting the Tigers to the heights Watson did.
But one thing is eerily similar — identical, almost — between them, and it’s what helped Bryant make his biggest leap yet against Virginia Tech on Saturday. Like Watson, he isn’t fazed by high-pressure situations.
You might have to X-ray Bryant and make sure there aren’t circuits and wires running through him, because he’s cool to a nearly unnerving degree. Lane Stadium sure isn’t an easy place to waltz into and play well in, especially when the Hokies are undefeated and looking to knock off the defending national champions.
And yet, that’s what Bryant did.
He wasn’t firing from the hip, although he did misfire on a couple of big-play opportunities. His day went like this: 12 of 21 passing for 186 yards and a touchdown: unremarkable, but perfectly fine numbers. Bryant did most of his work on the ground, though. He ran for 94 yards on 19 attempts, including a 24-yarder that set up a touchdown.
And then there was the most important stat: Clemson 31, Virginia Tech 17.
For the most part, he remained composed, cool and collected — exactly what a Clemson quarterback needs to be as long as the defense remains as panic-inducing and terrifying as it has the last handful of years.
Because for all the growth Bryant’s shown even in just five short games, he can afford to play within himself when he knows his defense can punch the other team’s offense in the mouth as many times as it needs to until he makes things work.
That can be viewed as a blessing or a curse, yes. There could potentially come a time when the defense slips up once or twice and Bryant has to do something he hasn’t yet, which is put the team on his back and lead it to victory. But those moments seem to be so few and far in between in the future, that Clemson can take its chances.
The thing that should put Clemson fans at ease, though, is that Bryant hasn’t shown any signs of getting rattled, despite facing three top-15 teams — two of which were on the road. Even though his stat line isn’t necessarily gaudy — Bryant has 3 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions — Clemson hasn’t needed him to win games through the air.
But in knocking off Virginia Tech and handing the Hokies their first loss, Bryant demonstrated that the stage won’t ever be too big for him. After all, he’s been sitting behind Watson for the past two years, and he’s experienced every facet of a pair of playoff runs save for actually playing in the game.
“We’re used to this,” Kelly Bryant said, per the Post and Courier’s Grace Raynor. “We’re always playing in games like this. I’ve been around here for three years, it just seems like every Saturday you’re out here in prime time.”
Sixty percent of the games Bryant has started have held the allure and drama of a high-stakes environment, and he’s aced every one. His improvement week-to-week has been evident, and as long as he plays like Kelly Bryant, Clemson will be just fine.
The post Kelly Bryant shows off Deshaun Watson qualities, makes biggest leap yet vs. Va. Tech appeared first on Diehards.
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