Three-horse race

Larry Williams, Senior Writer
Tiger Illustrated

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Maybe spring games just weren't meant for Kelly Bryant.

A year ago he had a frustrating experience on an exceptionally windy day at Death Valley, watching passes sail away from their targets and hearing the whistle blow quickly when he was scrambling and a defender grazed him with a fingernail.

Last week, the situation set up perfectly for Bryant to shine when Dabo Swinney decided to make his quarterbacks open to contact. But then he tweaked his hamstring during practice to put his status in doubt.

Bryant fought through that injury and suited up, but then he suffered a torn tendon on the pinky in his throwing hand at the start Saturday. Passing the ball was thus a struggle for him, to the point that he said it was like trying to throw with three fingers.

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Given those extenuating circumstances, it would not be wise to make ironclad conclusions on Bryant based on his 4-for-13 passing day in the spring game that included a red-zone interception and some really nice runs (66 yards on 12 carries).

Heck, it wouldn't have been smart for any of the estimated 60,000 fans in attendance to walk away issuing firm judgments on the quarterback competition based on what they saw.

This ritual exercise for the fans certainly carried more importance than normal, largely because the coaches wanted to see how their quarterbacks handled the stress and pressure of playing in front of a lot of people.

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