Relaxed and having fun – not exactly what you think with a neck-and-neck position battle, but for junior quarterback Cole Stoudt, it’s been the approach to his best spring yet on campus.
The Dublin, Ohio product has turned it up this week, sharing first-team reps on Tuesday with senior quarterback Tajh Boyd out of town and then outshining the rest in the Tigers’ first spring scrimmage Wednesday, connecting on 6-of-9 passes for 113 yards with two touchdowns and a pick.
He credits the right mechanics to teaching sessions this offseason with longtime NFL quarterback dad, Cliff Stoudt.
“Throwing with my Dad, (I’ve been) working on my form,” the Tigers’ backup QB said, “and learning to relax my throw instead of being tense and having to worry about every single throw. Just go out and throw and have fun with it.”
The one-on-one talks help too.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gone home and he hasn’t talked about football,” Stoudt said. “Every single time we do, it’s a great conversation.
“We’re in depth with it, going through the playbook, talking – I’ve never been like, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t want to talk about football.’ It’s like: ‘Can we please talk.’ It’s got me in a groove and I got my motivation back talking to him.”
Dabo Swinney said Stoudt looked “incredibly confident” in the scrimmage, and offensive coordinator/QB coach Chad Morris has echoed the same sentiments over the spring – chalking up the difference between him and the highly-rated redshirt-freshman Chad Kelly to “veteranism.”
Sitting behind Boyd on the depth chart for two and what’s likely to be three seasons, the junior, who improved his completion percentage by 12 percent from his freshman to sophomore years (69.2), says transferring for more immediate playing time hasn’t ever been a serious thought.
“I don’t think there’s any other place like Clemson,” he said. “I’ve loved it ever since I’ve been here. The coaches are great. Being around these coaches are like being around another family.
“…I don’t think I could ever leave. Even after college, I might just stay in Clemson.”
Sporting a new number (8 to 18), he recognizes he’s locked into more than just a backup quarterback competition.
“Every spring is big,” Stoudt said, “but this is one is pretty big. Next year when Tajh is gone it’s just going to be me and Chad battling out again.
“(I’m) just trying to get as much as I can done here to be the best as I can be. Trying to get some playing time next year – I’m hoping I will.”
He also sees what Boyd talked about earlier this week – everybody raising their game at quarterback for the season ahead.
“Our competition is tight in the meeting rooms coaching each other,” said Stoudt. “Me, Donny (McElveen), Tajh, Chad – we’re all coaching up Tajh and Tajh is coaching up us. It’s kinda like us all coaching each other and making all of us better.
“The competition between me and Chad is good. It’s making us work hard and making us push Tajh, which is what we really need to do.”