Swinney on winner of QB battle: "He's got to get the job done"
|Sunday, July 16, 2017, 8:01 AM- -|
CHARLOTTE, NC – Ask four different people who Clemson’s starting quarterback will be when the Tigers open the season against Kent St. in early September, and you might get four different answers. Ask those same people who Clemson’s quarterback will be in mid-October, and you might again get four different answers.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney isn’t ready to name a starter – he will go no further than saying Kelly Bryant is atop the depth chart heading into fall camp – but Swinney did lay out the game plan for Bryant, Zerrick Cooper, Hunter Johnson, Tucker Israel and Chase Brice.
“They’ve got to show me that they’ve got ownership of the system,” Swinney said. “What we put in in the spring, they have to own that. If they don’t, then they didn’t put the work in over the summer and it will be very obvious. But I know that’s not the case. Both (Kelly Bryant and Hunter Johnson) of those guys have worked their tails off.”
A precocious freshman named Deshaun Watson wasn’t immediately handed a starting job in 2014 – veteran Cole Stoudt started against both Georgia and Florida St. before Watson took the reins early against the Seminoles.
The reasoning at that time was that Watson didn’t have enough of a grasp on the offense to start, and Swinney says that the competitors have to show that they understand the offense.
“Whoever wins the job has got to be a guy that shows that he has a great command of what we are doing,” Swinney said. “He has to show he can execute what we are asking him to do, has a great understanding of what we’re asking him to do in the run game, makes good decisions, makes others around him better, provides the leadership and poise that we need. There’s a lot of things that go into it. And he’s got to get the job done.”
Of course, whoever steps in as the starter has to replace the player who is arguably the greatest quarterback in Clemson history in Watson. No one will ever be Watson – he was a generational talent – but Swinney isn’t looking for the next Watson.
He just wants a player that can be consistent.
“He’s got to be consistent. He can’t be hot and cold, we’ve got to have a consistent performer at that position,” Swinney said. “So, I’d rather have a guy that’s a very consistent performer than a guy that’s maybe got a little more talent—that’s hot then cold. You can’t win with those guys. So that’s all we’re looking for.”
For now, however, Bryant has the edge.
“We have a starting point when we get into camp,” Swinney said. “I said coming out of the spring that Kelly is going in as the first team guy - he’s earned that and definitely today gives us the best chance to win. I mean we’ve got a lot of work to do, we’ve got a whole month.”