If Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant has learned anything this year, it’s how to overcome adversity. Through the course of this season Bryant has had to prove himself in a variety of ways.
Over the past nine games Bryant has faced doubters, mistakes and injuries but he still has the Tigers ranked No. 4 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings with a chance to play for another Conference and possibly a National Championship.
After a rough first half against NC State last Saturday, Bryant and the Tigers regained control of the second half and left Carter-Finley Stadium with a 38-31 victory. It was one of several hostile road environments Bryant has dealt with this year.
“Early on there was struggles and that was kind of frustrating because some throws I was just missing by a step,” said Bryant. “Also one I just remember I had Trevion (Thompson) up the seam. I just underthrew him and it could’ve been a touchdown but (I have to have) the mentality to just move on from it.
“That one-play mentality. I knew it was going to be a long game, but I just try not to let it linger in my mind. I’m just trying to lead the offense and stay on one play and keep that mentality and mindset that it’s going to be a long game but we have to keep playing.”
Bryant put the first half behind him and finished with 191 passing yards and a touchdown, while also running for 88 more yards and two touchdowns. Head coach Dabo Swinney credits Bryant’s “toughness and maturity” for always getting back up.
“(It’s) just having the mindset and will to just keep playing,” Bryant said. “Because like I said it’s a long game. There’s going to be a lot during the course of the game with the flow going up and down. Just continue not to ride the highs and lows throughout the course of the season and also during a game.”
Bryant and the Tigers (8-1, 6-1 ACC) have another challenge on their hands this week as they take on Florida State with the ACC’s Atlantic Division title on the line.
The Seminoles are not having the season they were expected to have suffering a season-ending knee injury to their starting quarterback Deondre Francois, in the first game of the season. However, despite their 3-5 record Clemson is not taking them lightly.
“Of course, it’s not going to be hard to ignore (their record) but at the same time it’s Florida State vs. Clemson,” said Bryant. “It’s a rivalry with everybody on both sides, whether you’re a Clemson or Florida State fan, this is a game that a lot of people look at.
“It’s also a game where we can clinch the division so it’s going to be an environment where we’re at home, we get to play in front of our fans and have the opportunity to clinch it, but it’s going to be a rivalry game like I said. They are going to bring it despite whatever their record is and it’s going to be a hard fought game.”
As always, Bryant will suit up for Saturday’s 3:30 kickoff and keep the outside talk, outside. As a native of Calhoun Falls, S.C., Bryant has watched this rivalry unfold for years, so he’s just grateful to be able to now play a part in it.
“I always grew up watching the Clemson/Florida State games, just seeing the different players that came through the rivalry on both sides,” he said. “To have the opportunity to say I played in it, looking down the road to have the opportunity to play in this rivalry so I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait for it.”