As of Tuesday morning, no one really knows what No. 2 Clemson will do at quarterback when it travels to Syracuse, N.Y., Friday to take on the Orange in the Carrier Dome.
Kelly Bryant, who suffered an ankle injury in last Saturday’s win over Wake Forest, was unable to attend his weekly media interview session on Monday due to his class schedule and treatment for the injured left ankle. On Dabo Swinney’s call-in show Monday night, no one asked the head coach about Bryant’s status for Friday’s game.
Hunter Johnson and Zerrick Cooper were also not available for Monday’s interviews and there is no word if Bryant participated in Sunday’s or Monday’s practice. Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott opened up his interview with the media by saying he will let Swinney speak for the team in regards to Bryant’s health and status.
However, Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph might have given some insight on the situation when he was asked how Johnson’s 5-for-5 performance in the Wake game will help with his confidence in the future.
“Hunter did great,” the junior said. “It’s the next man up in this business and all of those guys prepare just as hard as Kelly. God willing, when he comes back, when it’s time and all that, but we’re just happy to see guys step up. You’re on scholarship. You’re here for a reason. Just believe in yourself and go execute the offense and that’s what they did.”
Etienne continues to develop fast. Though he is a freshman, the development of running back Travis Etienne continues to get better and better with each game.
Once again the Jennings, La., native led the Tigers in rushing with 67 yards on 15 carries, including a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against Wake Forest. In the five games he has played in, Jennings has led Clemson in rushing in four of them.
For the season, Etienne is second on the team in rushing with 378 yards. He is averaging 8.2 yards per carry and has five touchdowns. However, the freshman’s development just isn’t about the way he is carrying the ball. He is also starting to get better in pass protection, which he admits he still has some work to do.
“I’ve progressed a lot, actually,” Etienne said, “just knowing the schemes, knowing what gaps I’m supposed to protect, and my technique is getting much better.”
Those were not boos. Scott said freshman wide receiver Tee Higgins was confused by the reaction from Clemson fans after one of his catches against Wake Forest on Saturday.
“He was a little bit uneasy after one of them,” Scott said. “He thought that they were booing him, and some of the players had to tell him on the sideline they were actually saying ‘Tee.’ He was like, ‘Why are they booing me?’ I said, ‘You’ll figure it out.’
“We had a good laugh about that.”
Higgins finished the game with three catches for 39 yards, including a 20-yard pass from Bryant.
Tigers are ready to sprint into the open week. Several of Clemson players spoke about the focus of this week’s game against Syracuse is to finish the job and sprint into the open week instead of limping in.
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell says the Tigers deserve the break after taking on perhaps the toughest first half schedule in college football. In its first six games, Clemson has defeated three top 15 ranked opponents, including two wins on the road at Virginia Tech and at Louisville.
The other was a home win over Auburn, who is currently No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
“After we put this one to bed it’ll be good to have that time off to rest,” said Ferrell. “September was really, really tough. That was one of the hardest first halves of the season you can have as a team in college football. So it’ll be good after we get this one out of the way.”