Kelly Bryant shines in first game as Clemson's starting QB

Kelly Bryant (L) of the Clemson Tigers scores a touchdown against the Kent State Golden Flashes on September 2, 2017 at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina. (Getty Images)

Clemson fans worried about replacing Deshaun Watson had to feel good about Kelly Bryant’s performance on Saturday.

Bryant made his first career start at home against Kent State and looked more than comfortable. The junior, who is replacing two-time Heisman finalist and first-round NFL draft pick Deshaun Watson, completed 16-of-22 passes for 236 yards while adding 77 yards rushing on just seven attempts in a 56-3 win.

Bryant got things going with his legs early and led the Tigers to touchdowns in their first three possessions of the game. His best pass of the afternoon came on the team’s second drive. On second and short, Clemson went with a play-action pass and Bryant looked deep to find Deon Cain behind the defense for a 61-yard score.

It was an absolutely gorgeous pass.

[Sign up for Fantasy Football before it’s too late! Draft now for free]

Watson was certainly impressed.

(via ESPN)

And beyond his play on the field, Bryant proved to be a polite guy, too, by helping this referee with his hat.

Too funny.

With the game firmly in hand, coach Dabo Swinney also got a chance to put his two freshmen quarterbacks in the game. First, it was redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper, who completed four-of-six passes for 37 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown to Cornell Powell. Five-star true freshman Hunter Johnson also got his first career action and connected on five-of-six passes for 39 yards.

The Tigers also looked good with their ground game, spreading the carries around to nine different players. The team as a whole gained a whopping 353 yards at 8.3 yards per rush, led by Travis Etienne’s 81 yards. Tavien Feaster added 69 yards on just six carries while C.J. Fuller registered 51 yards and two scores on seven tries. Feaster and Etienne also each reached the end zone once.

Oh, and the defense allowed only 120 yards.

Yes, it was just Kent State, but this was a good day for the defending national champions as they get ready for a much tougher test next Saturday at home against Auburn.

– – – – – – –

Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

More college football coverage from Yahoo Sports:
Refs take away Missouri TD for excessive celebration
Picture this: Clemson band trolls Ohio State
Michigan State WR hauls in incredible one-handed TD catch
Wyoming punter’s epic blooper costs team dearly