In Saturday’s win over Florida State, fourth-ranked Clemson clinched its third consecutive Atlantic Division title and will play Miami in the ACC Championship on Dec. 2 in Charlotte.
The Tigers, however, are not jumping ahead as they still have to finish out the regular season with a home game against The Citadel this Saturday before traveling to Columbia to face South Carolina on Nov. 25.
On Monday the media spoke with co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, quarterback Kelly Bryant and ACC Rookie of the Week, running back Travis Etienne. Here is what we heard:
As a first-year starter, Bryant has certainly faced adversity, specifically dealing with injury and inaccuracy of the long ball. But his resilience and capability to get right back up has helped him lead Clemson to a 9-1 record and has given them the opportunity to win another ACC Championship as well as make a third consecutive run in the College Football Playoff.
Scott compared former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Bryant, saying both of them up to this point in the season were very similar with the main difference being the missed deep balls.
“There are times, just like Deshaun’s freshman year…he had plenty of coaching points,” Scott said. “You just use those opportunities to really coach those guys up.
“I think the deep ball shots are more visible. … Last year at this point, Deshaun had completed 66 percent of his passes, and this year, after 10 games, Kelly has completed 65 percent. The biggest difference is just those five or six deep balls that can really make up the difference for where we want to be.”
Bryant understands how important it is to fix this issue of throwing the deep ball but he does not feel as if it has been an issue of feeling rushed. Instead he feels it is a slight mechanical issue.
“I don’t think I’m rushing it or anything,” Bryant said. “It’s just throwing the ball rather than trying to aim it or trying to throw the perfect ball. So just getting back there and delivering a good ball to the receiver no matter what it looks like coming out of my hand.
“Just my elbow, just keeping it high,” Bryant said of what he needs to adjust. “A lot of those from last week and the NC State week, I’ve been missing them high. So just following through on my throws. Just small mechanical things that can be fixed. I’m just going to have to continue to rep it after practice, just continue to rep some of those throws I’ve missed.”
Despite the throwing issue Bryant has proved many people wrong this season as his expectations to fill the role of Watson were extremely high and many had their doubts.
“People were just saying it’s big shoes I have to fill, this and that,” Bryant said. “I always would say well, I wear a size-16 shoe, so I fill big shoes every day.”
Etienne has emerged as one of the team’s top running backs but as just a freshman he knows there are several things he still needs to improve in his run game.
“Improving my game, there’s still a lot of things I can improve on,” he said. “As far as my running technique just running the ball and finding those extra yards. Just being patient and getting to mesh all of the way and the the way I carry, hold the ball. There’s a lot of things I can improve on.”
As the Tigers wind down the regular season, they are not taking The Citadel lightly as they remember how the Bulldogs upset South Carolina two years ago.
“It’s not about who we play, it’s about how we play,” said Scott. “That’s been the same message when we’ve been getting ready to play Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech. You always have to have respect for your opponent and obviously what they did in Columbia a few years ago. Our guys know about that and still remember that.”