Monday Morning Quarterback
Leadership can be shown in many ways.
It can be through someone’s attitude, commitment, determination and selflessness. Their character, work ethic and the way they carry themselves are other ways. How they act in adverse situations is another.
It would have been easy for Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant to pout this past Saturday in the No. 2-ranked Tigers’ two-point win at Texas A&M. Instead, he chose to be engaged and understood the situation in case he was called back into the game.
“You have to be ready when your number is called,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “He has found a way to quiet his mind and not worry about the situation and play the next play. That is something we talk about all the time … just play the next play. That is really all it is.
“That is just a testament to his character.”
Bryant seemed like he lost his opportunity to lead Clemson to victory when he fumbled the snap on a fourth-and-goal play at the Aggies’ one-yard line with 1:54 to play in the first half. A touchdown there would have given the Tigers complete control of the game. Instead, it gave Bryant a seat on the bench.
Freshman Trevor Lawrence ran the last play of the half for Clemson and then started the next two drives of the second half. But when those three possessions netted just 15 yards, including back-to-back three-and-outs to start the third quarter, head coach Dabo Swinney turned to his leader … Kelly Bryant.
“I was just being engaged and made sure I was cheering on the whole offense,” Bryant said. “I was just being that leader. I did not want to give off any negative energy because I am not that type of guy. I was just making sure I stay ready as well.”
And he was.
The senior made an impact immediately.
On his first play of the second half, he completed a 50-yard pass down the sideline to Tee Higgins, and three plays later he had the Tigers in the end zone when threw a dart to Diondre Overton for an 8-yard touchdown.
On Clemson’s next possession, following a quick 78-yard touchdown drive by the Aggies, Bryant found Hunter Renfrow 40 yards down the field on the first play and then ran for 11 yards. Three plays later and facing a third-and-four at the Texas A&M 18, Bryant completed a 10-yard pass to Renfrow for a first down at the 8-yard line.
“I got in a good rhythm. I gave guys an opportunity to make a play on the ball,” Bryant said. “Those guys did a heck of a job out there on the perimeter.”
Three plays later, Etienne was in the end zone for what turned out to be the game-winning score.
“I’m proud of Kelly,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
Bryant later had a 27-yard run, and though the Tigers did not score again, it was obvious they might not have won the game had it not been for the senior and more importantly if it had not been for his attitude, character and his leadership when his team needed it the most.
“I loved just the mindset,” Swinney said. “I thought that Kelly showed leadership, made some plays with his legs, missed some throws and made some throws, but it was definitely a good game he can gain some confidence from as he moves forward.”