Since camp opened on Aug. 4, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has said over and over again that Kelly Bryant is his most consistent quarterback of the three battling to replace Deshaun Watson as the Tigers’ new quarterback.
Bryant, along with freshmen Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson, have been battling it out to see who will get the start when fifth-ranked Clemson opens the season on Sept. 2 against Kent State.
After Wednesday’s situational scrimmage in Death Valley, Swinney acknowledged, unless Bryant has a major stumble in the next 16 days, he will be the Tigers’ starting quarterback after they come down the Hill for the first time in 2017.
There was no stumbling on Wednesday, Bryant completed a 77-yard touchdown pass to Deon Cain under heavy duress for the top play of the day and then had a 41-yard completion to receiver T.J. Chase later in the scrimmage. At one point, the former Wren High School standout completed 9 of 10 passes.
“He has been so focused, so consistent, and unless he totally goes crazy, he’s going to be the guy that runs out there,” Swinney said.
Chase was the top receiver with five catches for 80 yards in the situational scrimmage, while running back Travis Etienne was the leading rusher. His day included a 60-yard scoring run. The freshman had a 32-yard touchdown run in the team’s first scrimmage last Saturday.
Etienne, the breakout star of fall camp so far, has led the Tigers in rushing in both scrimmages.
In all, Clemson practiced 90 plays in the situational scrimmage as temperatures soared into the 90s.
On defense, linebacker Chad Smith had the only takeaway with an interception, while he also had a sack. Defensive end Clelin Ferrell again had an impressive scrimmage as the sophomore recorded three tackles for loss for a second straight scrimmage, including a sack.
Fellow defensive end Xavier Kelly had two tackles for loss as well, including a sack, while Trayvon Mullen had a pair of pass deflections from his cornerback position.
“It was good. We got better as a team today,” Swinney said. “We got a lot that we can teach from and grow from with this tape. There were a lot of good things.”
Left tackle Mitch Hyatt returned to his starting position to help the offense. However, Adam Choice and Marcus Edmond both missed the scrimmage due to injury. Edmond is nursing a groin injury, while Choice is still out with a hamstring issue.
Clemson will practice again on Thursday morning as it returns to Jervey Meadows. All practices are closed to the public.
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