When the announcement came down on Monday that Trevor Lawrence would start over Kelly Bryant against Syracuse this weekend, my first reaction was to feel bad for KB. No amount of verbiage from the coaching staff is going to make KB feel better about this. It has to feel like he’s taking a gut-punch 24/7. All the hard work to silence the doubters, all the improvement he made, the great person he seems to be, and the team leader that he became are seemingly marginalized overnight. There is always pride involved, and with pride, comes disappointment and likely some embarrassment of being demoted.
With the announcement today that KB would be transferring out of the program, my first reaction was “good for him.” Be a fighter. Don’t take no for an answer. Control your own destiny and do what’s best for you. Selfishly, of course, I would like him to stay at Clemson, but it’s not about me or any other fan. The staff’s loyalty should be to the player that gives the team the best chance to win and not to the guy that’s been there the longest or put in the most work. KB’s loyalty needs to be to all that work he’s put in to transform into the player that he has become. He’s the guy who has given his best to the program, put in all of those countless hours, embraced his opportunity last year, been knocked unconscious on the field, and won the MVP of the ACCCG.
The next thing I thought about is all the “sunshine and rainbow” reports the media gave us about how the dynamics of the QB competition “are not detrimental to the team. And that’s what relevant.” You even heard the announcers on Saturday tout the uniqueness of how the two QBs were in a copacetic utopia with the competition. My response to the readers at CPaws has been: “This only becomes relevant when something changes that forces Bryant to take another role.” Well, we got a role change for KB and one day later, he decided to transfer.
Back in June I said this: “I believe Lawrence will have to out-play Bryant in games under the bright lights if he is to permanently take the starting position.” and this about TL being named starter, “KB would have to understand his role and accept it, and that might be the biggest sticking point the staff has to deal with concerning the QB battle.”
That sticking point has come to fruition and KB has decided not to take the role. KB could’ve played multiple series a game which would allow us to use him situationally, play him when he was hot (a la Texas A&M), limit TL’s snaps to keep him healthy, and a have a proven commodity available if TL got hurt.
My hope is that Chase Brice will pick up a lot of that slack and that the staff will be quick to put him in if we find ourselves with a sizeable lead in the 2nd half. Brice has that moxie where he seems to be prone to a feast or famine type outcome. KB is an even-keel QB and great decision-maker that would’ve been a great closer if the staff had decided to use him that way.
I am going through the Georgia Tech film right now so that I can have the most accurate assessment possible of Trevor Lawrence. That takes a lot of hours, but I’ll put it all together and summarize it all in The Bottom Line post that comes out on Friday.
The last thing I want to talk about is how the staff handled KB while he was at Clemson. From all accounts and everything I have seen, they have done right by KB. They have given him every opportunity to solidify himself as the starting QB at Clemson.
- They handed him the starting job as the incumbent in the spring of 2017.
- They kept him #1 post-spring when he had a poor spring game.
- He took all the meaningful snaps he was available for in 2017 even when they had to take an entire game, The Citadel, to work on recurring downfield passing game issues.
- Hunter Johnson outplayed him against The Citadel and they did not give him any of KB’s snaps.
- They let KB go down with the ship when he was having a bad game against Alabama instead of playing Hunter Johnson in the way that Saban played Tua.
- Then they made him #1 post spring this year after being out-played by Lawrence and Johnson in the spring game.
- By doing all of that, they ran off two QBs that they spent time and resources recruiting in Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson.
- They started KB in the first four games of the season this year and he was not as efficient as Trevor Lawrence.
I say all that to say this, KB should not play the victim and stop talking to the media. He should thank the staff for all of these opportunities and do his talking on the field wherever he ends up. There are two things we fans can clearly see from the outside looking in: 1. Kelly Bryant got plenty of opportunities and overachieved to even start here, let alone, take us to the playoffs. And 2. Trevor Lawrence is a far more talented passer with a much greater upside than KB.
Thank you KB for everything you have done for the Clemson program. Your legacy is secure as an ACC Championship QB that led the team to the #1 seed in the playoffs.
The Trevor Lawrence era begins now.