Tight end Milan Richard is confident in quarterback Kelly Bryant as No. 3 Clemson gets set to host No. 13 Auburn Saturday (7 p.m.) in Death Valley.
Bryant and Richard connected two times for 70 yards in last week’s season-opening win over Kent State. One of the two passes was a 44-yard catch-and-run. Both passes set up Clemson touchdowns.
Question: It had to be good to get your first big reception on the opening drive out of the way. How did that feel?
Richard: “It felt like a long time coming. I mean it was great but you know anytime you can help the team win. I was really happy for Kelly. That was big for me. I knew that play was coming so it was really big deal for me to catch that ball because I knew it would help Kelly a lot too and help our offense get in a rhythm. It was a lot bigger than just me. It was big for the team.”
Question: How does Kent State help you guys moving into Auburn?
Richard: “I definitely would not call it a preseason game. We prepare the same way no matter who the opponent is. Coach (Dabo) Swinney always likes to say it’s about how we play not who we play. It does give us some confidence going forward, but this week we really do have to be on our P’s and Q’s because we are playing a great team on Saturday.”
Question: How do you feel like you did on your blocking against Kent State?
Richard: “I feel like I blocked well. I always have room to improve. I don’t think it was a bad game blocking just because I had a catch, but I feel like I blocked well.”
Question: How important was it for you to come out and have some success as your first game as a starter? Especially coming in and replacing a guy like Jordan Leggett, did you take that as a challenge?
Richard: “I don’t know if I took at it as a challenge but maybe just as motivation. To just be prepared and go out and play well, I mean everyone wants to play well whether it was someone leaving and I was just stepping in or whatever the situation was. Everyone wants to just go out and perform well and always try to help the team win.”
Question: Is there a sense with the offense that even though you guys won last year that maybe you guys didn’t play as well as you wanted to?
Richard: “You always want to be perfect so I think that any time you leave something on the table like last year that you want to come back and fix those things. I honestly think we were lucky to win last year and Coach Swinney says that all of the time. So, it’s going to be a challenge for us this year. They are a great team and looking at them, their defense is fast and they look physical. We are going to have to be ready.”
Question: How were you guys able to come out of the game and be so fluid offensively?
Richard: “We’ve practiced for a long time…for months so it should’ve look like that and that’s kind of what our coaches were saying. They just wanted to make sure it looked like we had been at practice. I think that’s because of all of our hard work in the off-season and through camp and it showed Saturday.”
Question: Where are y’all confidence wise with the quarterback you have now compared to where you were last year?
Richard: “I have just as much confidence in Kelly as I did in Deshaun (Watson). I have just as much confidence in all of our guys to get the job done. We practice with them every day so we see things that y’all don’t see. Honestly, I have confidence in all of them, no matter who it is that is starting.”
Question: With the seven o’clock kickoff, the defense kind of feeds off the energy, but as an offensive player, is it kind of hard to keep your emotions in check?
Richard: “No, I think that any time you play in an electric environment it benefits both sides. Especially, playing here at home. I really want to thank our fans because they are really starting to understand that it’s not who we are playing but how we are playing now also. They are starting to show up now no matter who we are playing and it’s always a sellout. The energy is great both ways and I don’t think it hurts the offense at all.”