The QB breakdown: Depth is a "good problem to have"


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Streeter poses with Johnson (L), Bryant (C) and Israel (R) after the win over Miami
Streeter poses with Johnson (L), Bryant (C) and Israel (R) after the win over Miami

As of today, Clemson will enter spring practice with six quarterbacks on scholarship. How does quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter plan to handle the rotation and what are his thoughts on the players?

We spoke with Streeter at the Sugar Bowl last week, and the following is a Q&A with the answers to those questions.

On having six talented quarterbacks

“First off, it's a good problem to have because we're going to have a lot of talent and we already have a lot of talent at quarterback. I really believe that our culture here makes it somewhat easy to manage, not that there's not going to be specific things that we need to do to help manage it, but the culture here of it being such a positive environment, kids loving their experience here and wanting to be a part of it. I think that's a big component of managing these guys. Then, when it comes to spring, I haven't thought about the specifics of reps and things like that, but they're all going to have an opportunity, so that means that one guy is not going to have a ton of reps. I think it's important that you allow some of the younger guys to get a little bit more reps because they haven't had the opportunity to show what they have, like Kelly and Zerrick and even Hunter.

“They've all gotten most of the reps this fall. I think the other guys like Trevor and Tucker and Chase Brice, that haven’t had many reps get an opportunity. I'm not saying that it's going to be big time lopsided but they're going to have an opportunity to show us what they have. Obviously, with Trevor and Chase coming in here, it's going to be an opportunity to learn the system even more. That's going to be the big question mark. How fast can they learn it? Chase has done a really good job of learning. It's one thing to learn it but it's another thing to go out on the field and practice and execute at full speed.”

Kelly Bryant

“I think it was pretty early on in the year because we really didn't know what to expect (when they knew Kelly could start). You knew you had it in him, but he was never in a big-time game situation yet and he had all of those expectations that Deshaun Watson placed at our position, I just didn't know how he was going to accept all of the pressure because that's half the battle. They're all talented. It's a matter of how you handle the media, the pressure, the expectations. I would probably say the Auburn game. The first game was Kent State and he did a good job and a great job of managing but we were definitely a much better team than they were, whereas Auburn it was pretty equal and now we're going to find out. It was the first big state for Kelly and he had a heck of a game.

“He made good decisions. He made some big throws in key situations and he made some big runs in key situations, so when he was able to do all of those things as part of his game and did it with confidence and battled through adversity throughout the game. That's another thing you look for, how is he going to respond when it doesn't go great? We didn't score a ton of points so it wasn't perfect the whole game but he made the plays to go win it. When we had the four-minute and needing to run the clock out at the end, he made some big plays in that situation. He showed us a lot in that Auburn game because of the high-pressure situations that he had to face.”

Kelly Bryant’s leadership

“Deshaun was a quiet leader. Everybody respected Deshaun for who he was as a person and how hard he worked and his talent and he definitely brought that to the table. Kelly brings a different type of personality. When he steps in the room, he brightens up the room with his big smile. He's always happy. He's always fun to be around. Everybody on the team loves him and I knew when he stepped foot on campus that he was going to be a heck of a leader. I didn't know how much he was going to play or if he was going to win the job or all of that stuff, but I knew he had the makings of a great leader and he's shown that this whole year. These guys love Kelly Bryant. They rally around him and they play for each other and they play for him. It's neat to see that.”

Zerrick Cooper

“It all comes down to experience in games. He was in a situation at Syracuse where he did get some quality game reps. He did solid. He made some mistakes for sure. He made some big plays. The big thing with Zerrick is consistency. Just being able to be consistent, not just in games but at practice and he's gotten better. There is no question about it that he has gotten better. That's where it needs to carry over from the practice fields to the game field - that consistency where there are no major mistakes. There's something that he has to do day in and day out to be that consistent quarterback because as a quarterback we touch the ball every play, so you better be consistent or it's going to be hard to be successful. I think those are the biggest things. Then, just doing the little things - his footwork he can continue to get better at and that will help him to be a more consistent thrower.”

Hunter Johnson

“He's another guy that like with all of these quarterbacks it's about the experience. How many reps can they get? The more reps that Hunter Johnson gets, the more he improves. It's so obvious. If you look at the beginning of the season from preseason camp and he's still trying to learn the system in preseason camp. He's still learning and trying to get engaged and trying to understand all of the ins and outs of the system, so he struggled some in preseason camp. As the year has gone and he's getting reps every day at practice, he's gaining more and more confidence. He's got a ton of talent. He's got arm strength. He's got accuracy. He's smart. He can run very well, so he's got all of the tools. Now, he needs to continue to get better as far as not just consistency but he's a perfectionist and he wants everything to be perfect. Maybe he overthinks things once in a while and that makes him make some mistakes that he doesn't need to be making. All in all, I'm so pleased with how he's progressed and he's going to be a special player.”

Hunter Johnson and Zerrick Cooper work out at the Sugar Bowl

Chase Brice

“I love Chase Brice. He's a great kid. He's got a demeanor that's similar to Kelly Bryant as far as personality. Everybody on the team loves the guy. He can get along with anybody. He's just that type of person. I think his leadership quality is unbelievable. His talent, just watching him in recruiting him and then watching him in preseason camp and throughout the year when we had different opportunities to watch him - especially during scrimmages in bowl prep - he's got what it takes. He's got the arm strength. He can move. He's big. He's smart and he understands the big picture. He's learning the system this fall and that was a big challenge for him. He's got to take every day and get better and not take any day for granted. If he didn't do that then he wouldn't be where he is right now. He's starting to understand the offense a lot better and I feel really good about Chase.”

Tucker Israel

“Right now, Tucker has been an unbelievable presence, not just in our meeting room but on the practice field. He's kind of that coach on the field for us. He knows this system as good or better than all of them, so that's where his talent is. He can manage the game and he knows exactly what to expect. He knows the big picture. He knows defenses. He knows our system. He hasn't had a whole lot of reps this fall but he's been able to help with the younger and really helping them progress and learn the system. His role this year has been really big for our success, to be honest with you. His demeanor, his presence in our meeting rooms and helping out in practice with the younger guys has really, really helped these guys grow.”

Trevor Lawrence

“He's special. I've been recruiting him since he finished the ninth grade. I remember talking to Coach King when I got the job here three years ago, I went there the first week because I heard about him and knew about him. Brent Venables told me about him because that was his area at the time. Just sitting down with Coach King, I said, 'Alright, I hear about this Trevor Lawrence kid. What is he good at and what does he need to improve?' He just kept saying, 'Coach, he's got everything.' I sit back because I hear that once in a while from coaches and I'm like, 'Well, give me something he needs to improve on.' He said, 'Coach, I'm telling you, he's got everything you could possibly want.' He's right. He's got the ability throwing wise to make any kind of throw - in the pocket, out of the pocket, on the move - and he's very accurate. He's got very good arm strength. He's 6-5 or 6-6, 210 pounds. What I was probably most impressed with after I heard all of this is how he can move. He can really move. He's a really, really good athlete. He's not just a tall 6-5 surfer boy that can't do it. He can move and get out of the pocket. As a quarterbacks coach, that's one of the top things I look for in a quarterback. In our offense, you better be able to move. He might not be a Kelly Bryant as far as designed quarterback runs like we have for Kelly Bryant as much but he's a guy that all of these RPOs, if it's not there, he'll make those throws all day long. He's very, very valuable. The kind of things that you don't see on the field is that he's a great character guy. Awesome family. He's one of the most poised guys I've ever been around. Deshaun was ridiculous. Kelly has been unbelievable so far as far as being poised no matter what the situation. All of these expectations that he's had because he had so much success early on - ninth grade, tenth grade, 11th grade - and he's continued to get better and not dip at all. He's risen up in big games. The game on TV against Bartram Trail might have been his best game. Handling those expectations, he's proven to us that he can do that.”

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