Kelly Bryant said he spent all of last week getting treatment on his ankle.
But in No. 7 Clemson’s 24-10 victory over Georgia Tech Saturday night in Death Valley, he looked as if he was not even hurt.
Bryant seemed to be is old self again, as he ran for a team-high 67 yards on 12 carries, averaging 5.6 yards along the way. He was zigzagging all over the field at times and when the Yellow Jackets brought the pressure, he was fast and agile enough to get himself out of trouble as he was not sacked all night.
“This last week, I felt really good,” the junior said. “I just tried to get my body back under me during practice, but I was in the treatment room every day grinding out and trying to get my body back healthy.”
It was not just Bryant’s ankle that looked healthy … he looked fresh as a whole. He opened the game by completing eight of his first nine passes for 109 yards and two scores. He finished the game 22-of-33 for 207 yards and two touchdowns, and most importantly, no turnovers.
“Kelly did a good job this past week in practice,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “He never really had to come out one time in practice, and it was good for him to get back out there. This was not an ideal setting with the wet footing and all of that kind of stuff.
“But I think looking at the stats he was 22-of-33 and that was throwing with a wet ball, and we had a lot of drops out there because of all the water, so he did a great job of making the right decisions.”
Bryant opened the game with a bang. On the Tigers’ second-play, he pulled the football on what was a run-pass-option and delivered a well-placed ball to wide receiver Deon Cain, who made one defender miss and then raced 38 yards to the end zone for the game’s first score.
The Calhoun Falls, S.C. native later threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Milan Richard for a 14-3 lead and then set up Travis Etienne’s two yard run in the second quarter with a 17-yard run.
With Bryant rolling, so did Clemson’s offense as it got back into form. The Tigers tallied 428 yards … 221 rushing and 207 passing.
“Coach challenged us and asked how we will respond (following the Syracuse loss),” Bryant said. “I felt we responded in a good way. From start to finish, we played Clemson football. So I feel like we responded.”
With the defense playing well and the rain coming down hard, the Tigers went a little more conservative in the second half and got a 29-yard Alex Spence field goal in the third quarter to go up 24-3. From there, Clemson just set the game on cruise control and coasted in for an easy victory.
“We felt like from the beginning, we were not going to hold anything back,” Bryant said. “I told the coaches I was ready to go. I did not feel like there was no strain or feel like I was going to be limping out there so that was the game plan and we ran with it.”