CLEMSON — Reporters haven’t heard much about Cole Stoudt this spring, and judging by his coaches’ recent comments, that might be a good thing for him.
Following Monday’s first scrimmage of spring practice, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Stoudt “showed back up.”
“I thought someone had kidnapped him, and he’d had an out-of-body experience for a few practices there,” Swinney said. “He really had his best day Monday.”
Stoudt was believed to be solidly ensconced as Tajh Boyd’s backup entering spring, but he has been challenged by Morgan Roberts, who spent last fall as a redshirt.
But Swinney and offensive coordinator Chad Morris say he simply hasn’t performed well.
“That was by far, the best Cole Stoudt has done this spring,” Morris said of Monday’s scrimmage. “It’s a shame that it’s taken nine practices for him to get to the point where he feels like he’s battling for his playing life, basically.”
Morris said Roberts did an outstanding job over the first half of spring practice, creating a healthy competition for the backup role. That’s right: Roberts, who was originally scheduled to greyshirt last fall, is pushing Stoudt for his job.
“We’ve got a great competition at that position right now,” Morris said. “Hopefully within the next five practices we’ll figure out who’s going to be our backup. But there’s nothing set in stone right now, outside of coming out of that scrimmage where Cole did better, had the best practice he’s had.”
Last summer, Stoudt beat out fellow freshman Tony McNeal for the backup role behind Boyd. He played in six games, completing 12 of 21 passes for 115 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, finishing a win over Boston College after Boyd left with a hip injury.
But until his standout effort Monday, he was on the verge of losing that role.
“We had to see if he was ready to come on, step forward,” Morris said. “Otherwise Morgan Roberts was ready to step up and take over that position.”
Morris says competition at all positions is essential. He feels quarterback signee Chad Kelly could provide that throughout the depth chart.
“I wish we had competition to push Tajh like we’ve got competition to push the No.2 and No.3 guys,” he said. “That’s something we’ve got to eventually get to. That’s what Tajh needs right now. He needs someone to push him besides me and coach Swinney. We’ve got to make sure we keep pushing him.”
For now, they’ll have to settle for pushing Stoudt – hard.
“We’ve got to keep challenging him through competition,” Morris said. “Morgan Roberts is doing that as we speak.”