Clemson fortunate to have Kelly Bryant

Clemson fortunate to have Kelly Bryant

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Clemson fortunate to have Kelly Bryant

Monday Morning Quarterback

Trevor Lawrence’s debut as a college quarterback was a pretty good one.

The true freshman threw three touchdown passes, while completing 9-of-15 passes for 137 yards in second-ranked Clemson’s 48-7 victory over Furman this past Saturday. However, let’s keep things in perspective. I mean this as no disrespect to the Furman Paladins because they’re a good FCS football program, but it was just Furman.

Instead of throwing the football in front of 80,000 fans that are cheering for him against a team that is a step slower when it comes to athlete vs. athlete, Lawrence suddenly will be playing at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, home of College Football’s 12th Man.

More than 107,000 Texas A&M Aggies will be pulling against him instead of for him, while the speed of the game will be ratcheted up a notch as well.

“This will be a whole other animal right here,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.

Texas A&M is a different animal.

The Aggies (1-0) are coming off a win over an FCS opponent as well in Week 1. They beat Northwestern State, 59-7, last Thursday night in the inaugural game for new coach Jimbo Fisher, who came over from Florida State last December.

A&M is bigger, stronger and faster than Furman and Kyle Field is not an easy place to win a football game. The good news for Clemson is Lawrence does not have to do it alone. Fortunately for the freshman, he will have senior Kelly Bryant to lean on, a quarterback who has experience in many big games, especially on the road.

Bryant, who is expected to start on Saturday, led the Tigers (1-0) to road wins over top 15 teams Louisville and Virginia Tech, as well as beating a top 20 NC State squad on the road. Bryant also played well in a win at No. 24 South Carolina as well beating a top 15 Auburn team at home and winning MVP honors in the ACC Championship game in Charlotte.

In other words, Bryant is well equipped to handle the big-game pressure in a hostile environment.

“It is a blessing. It really is,” Swinney said. “He has not only started in games like this, but he has won them. We go to Louisville last year and it is GameDay and Lamar Jackson is the other quarterback. Then you go to Virginia Tech and it is GameDay and it is a really tough place to play and he played well.

“Obviously, Game 2, as a first-year starter against Auburn. Of course that was at home.”

In case you did not know, Saturday’s game at Texas A&M is a 7 p.m. kickoff (EST), and you guessed it, ESPN’s College GameDay will be there.

“(Bryant) has been in big games, and certainly, I think, your experience matters and hopefully that will show up,” Swinney said. “It does not mean he will automatically play well, but it is good to know that he has that experience to draw on as you head out to College Station.”

As for Lawrence, the only thing Swinney wants him to do is to continue to get better. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound freshman will play this week.

“He just needs to stay focused on the things that he controls, play within the system and just have his eyes on the right things,” Swinney said.

“I tell these guys all the time in order to have an opportunity to play, you have to play well. So just go and stay focused on the things that matter when it comes to executing the system,” he continued. “Again, that starts with getting the signal and processing the play and making sure if it is a run play that your eyes are on the right thing. If it is a pass play then it starts with getting the protection right and eyes on the right things. And then just executing and playing within the system. Don’t try to do too much.

“I do not expect him to be anything different than what he has been. But, it is certainly going to be a new experience for him.”

And he will not be playing against Furman.

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