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Kelly Bryant and the Clemson Offense; A Primer

What can we expect from QB Kelly Bryant based on the tiny sample size we’ve got.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What do we know Kelly Bryant can do? In short, not much. He was listed as the third string quarterback for the majority of last season, throwing all of nine passes for six completions. While that is a nice completion percentage, his furthest pass traveled just fifteen yards and he averaged under six yards per attempt in garbage time. His four for thirteen line in the spring game (with his furthest “completion” being a jet sweep tossed forward to RRM3) fails to inspire confidence, but he was playing injured and it’s a spring game. QT described him as “raw” but “probably the best runner on campus” as a recruit, and much of the same applies.

At somewhere between 6’3” and 6’4” and weighing in at 215 Bryant has the size to be a threat on direct snap runs. His ability to fall forward and churn through contact will be used heavily on third and short.

Bryant can make the right reads in the option game and is a threat to burn defenses every time he keeps the ball. His change of direction skills can make defenders look foolish.

With that said, he does have a tendency to get ran to the sideline on zone read keepers which could hinder his effectiveness against quicker defenses.

Bryant can and will burn teams that have poor gap control while pass rushing, but has not shown an ability or inclination to throw once forced to run. This may just be a result of small sample size, but it is something to look for the first few games.

Bryant can make the right read and throw the ball out wide, showing relative adeptness at stick routes and short screens. For the offense to work Bryant must be a threat to complete those passes often enough to punish defenses that load the box.

In addition to his ability to complete passes out wide Bryant has a strong enough arm to threaten defenses vertically. He can put his receivers in situations to make plays one on one.

Bryant tends to make the right read and fans should expect quite a bit of his passing to come from RPO’s. So long as the offense can run on honest fronts and punish the defense for overloading Clemson should be fine offensively.

With that said, Bryant still lacks touch and has a particular problem with sailing passes. While the small sample caveat applies, he still has the tendency to “slingshot” passes QT noted as a recruit.

He particularly has struggled throwing the ball over the middle of the field. While this isn’t an area Clemson emphasizes attacking, and will probably emphasize less this year without Leggett, it is still important to be able to threaten a safety between the hash marks. This could be particularly problematic on passing downs going forward.

In short what will make or break Bryant this year is his touch and accuracy as a passer. There are reasons for optimism, and he has every tool you could ask for, but from the little we have seen he is far from a finished product.