CLEMSON — As spring break approached, Cole Stoudt was in a major funk.
Clemson’s sophomore backup quarterback wasn’t playing well. He wasn’t in a groove.
Coach Dabo Swinney wondered if he’d been kidnapped or had an out-of-body experience.
Unheralded backup Morgan Roberts was suddenly pushing him for the No.2 job behind Tajh Boyd.
What clicked? A little fatherly help.
A throwing session with his father, former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, cleared up Cole’s problems. And while he’s still in a competitive situation entering Saturday’s Orange and White game, he is clearly in a much better place.
“Once I got back from spring break and threw with my dad, I felt a lot better – more confident and calm,” he said. “It’s been a lot better after spring break.”
Stoudt said he was fighting through mechanical issues, but they had a very basic root cause.
“The biggest thing my dad said was, ‘Relax, you’re all tightened up, you can’t move at all,’” Cole said. “It helped.”
Once Cole chilled a bit, success followed. Stoudt enjoyed his best practice of the spring in the Tigers’ first scrimmage, and had another solid effort Monday in the second scrimmage.
“My mechanics were a bit off,” he said. “It was making me frustrated, and after I got it all straight, started to calm down a little bit more, everything started to slow down.
“I had to get that fixed with my dad, and I’m really happy I did. That’s helped me a lot this last couple practices.”
This offseason has been tumultuous for Stoudt. He entered as Boyd’s unquestioned backup, but engaged in a well-publicized Twitter battle with signee Chad Kelly, who is expected to challenge for a backup role this fall as a true freshman.
Kelly, Morris and Stoudt discussed the incident during Kelly’s official visit, and Kelly said they laughed about it.
“It’s in the past. We’re teammates now,” Morris said. “Just a little speedbump ahead. We’re both competing. I’m glad he has an edge about that. Because if he’s not coming and competing, that’s not good. I want to compete, I want to make him better, we’ve got to push Tajh, too.”
Stoudt had no problem with battling for his job; his sophomore year of high school, he was challenged by a transfer student who was an inch taller and 50 pounds heavier. Stoudt won the position battle, and the new guy became a trusted target at tight end.
“Coming in and competing, there’s nothing wrong with competing,” he said. “ Competing makes you better. I’m really excited for how summer’s going to turn out and how fall’s going to be.”
In that sense, the push from Roberts was one of the best things that could’ve happened for Stoudt.
“Morgan Roberts has been very good this spring. That was a big eye-opener to me,” he said. “He came out and he was a different Morgan. I’m really impressed with how he’s doing. He’s pushing me, I’m pushing him, we’re both pushing Tajh. It’s going to be good and competitive.”