CHEYENNE – Matt Connolly explains it best – Kelly Bryant is a great quarterback who was in a tough situation.
Connolly, who has been the Clemson beat writer at the State News in Columbia, S.C., since 2014, witnessed each one of Bryant’s 18 starts for the Tigers. He struggled to find many weaknesses in his game.
He just wasn’t the best QB on the roster very often in South
“Backing up Deshaun Watson and then having Trevor Lawrence, who Urban Meyer just called the greatest quarterback in college football history, is tough,” Connolly said Tuesday afternoon. “At most other places, Bryant would be the starting quarterback.”
Missouri is “most places” in 2019.
Bryant replaces four-year starter Drew Lock, who passed for 12,193 yards and 99 touchdowns during his time in Columbia.
Calling a anything a one-hit wonder is typically a negative
thing. Not in this case.
Missouri wants just that during Bryant’s last year of
Does this guy have any flaws? Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl doesn’t think so. Neither does new defensive coordinator, Jake Dickert.
Connolly said there might be one – but it’s easier to talk
about than accomplish.
“I would say, if you can make him a pocket passer and have
him try to beat you with his arm, that’s when he got into some trouble and
struggled some,” he said. “He’s really good at extending plays. If there was a
weakness; keep him in the pocket.”
Bryant went 16-2 as a starter at Clemson. One of those
losses came to Alabama in the 2017 College Football Playoff at the Sugar Bowl.
Bryant completed just 18 of 36 passes for 124 yards and a
pair of interceptions that night. He also rushing the ball 19 times for 19
yards. That includes a 20-yard scamper early in the second quarter.
It was not a Kelly Bryant type of night.
Well, first of all, let’s just get this out of the way – it’s
Clemson did have four returning starters on the offensive
line, but you can see how Bryant looked more than uncomfortable in the pocket.
He went away from his first read quickly. Never looked for a second option.
The Crimson Tide did plenty of stunting and Bryant got zero
help from his running back in pass protection.
“A lot of people blame him for the loss to Alabama,”
Connolly said of Bryant. “The line really struggled that game and didn’t give
him a shot.
“But, if you put pressure on him in the pocket, he didn’t
handle it well. When he is on the edge and has a run-pass option, that’s when
he is at his best.”
Clemson lost one time during the regular season. It was a
27-24 setback inside Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.
Bryant completed 12 of 17 passes for 116 yards in the first
half. He carried the ball four times for minus-8 yards. That all came in one
half of football.
This hit ended his day early. Bryant left with a concussion.
Once again, Bryant is looking downfield, but does not seem
very settled with the Orange pass rush coming his way.
Let’s break down Bryant’s career passing numbers:
Passing: 311 of 470
Completion percentage: 66.2
Passing yards: 3,338
Yards per attempt: 7.1
QB rating: 132.8
Average per carry: 3.8
Who says Bryant can’t throw?
Not Bohl. Or Dickert.
“He’s got a strong arm, and they’ve got a very capable
passing tree,” Bohl said at his Monday afternoon press conference in Laramie. “So,
we’re going to need to prepare ourselves to get ready for a great quarterback.”
Dickert raved about Bryant’s accuracy while on the move.
Said he can throw the deep ball with the best of them. He also expects Mizzou’s
play calling to dictate Bryant roll out of the pocket and play on the edge.
That’s where Connolly said Bryant will hurt you the most.
“People think he’s only a running QB. That’s not true,” he
said. “He’s a QB who can run, not a runner who is a QB. He did miss some throws
at times and missed some deep balls. Some you might consider easy. He did
struggle with those. He won’t be like Lawrence or Drew Lock and sit back in
pocket and pick you apart. He didn’t showcase that at Clemson anyway.”