CLEMSON – Everybody loves the backup quarterback, so the saying goes.
But when Tajh Boyd is the starter…the backup happens to stay more out of the limelight.
Last week, Cole Stoudt got an early shot at some fame when Boyd took a shot and had to come out briefly in the second quarter. The Dublin, Ohio native connected on his first seven passes and then 12 of the next 13 for a Clemson single-game completion percentage record (.950).
“I just made connections with the receivers and getting in a groove fast,” Stoudt said. “(I was) performing at a high level and I'm happy with how I handled the offense in the situation with Tajh getting the wind knocked out of him.”
Stoudt has been Clemson's backup QB forever now (or since spring of 2011 if you're into specifics) – and he’s had to come in for Boyd unexpectedly five times, whether by injury or fatigue or equipment issues.
Stoudt plays with poise and confidence
The more memorable opportunity came in 2011 when Boyd took a hit to hip versus Boston College and Stoudt finished out the 36-14 win by hitting 12-of-18 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
“I always have to prepare like I'm the guy,” said Stoudt. “I've had situations where I've had to go in for Tajh when he's been banged up and I went in there in and performed. Just like this last game, I had to go in.
“Getting more experience has given me more confidence to take over the offense when I need to.”
Clemson's offensive coordinator says there’s a polish to what the third-year junior is doing now.
“He had a really big spring and kind of dialed back in and came into fall camp and looked polished,” Chad Morris said. “He operates within the system and just takes what’s there. That’s what you have to do, and because of that, that’s what you saw out there.”
Stoudt couldn’t have a much better mentor than who was already in his home, from his dad, Cliff Stoudt, who hung around the NFL as a quarterback from 1977-91.
Where there may usually have been a critique postgame, Cole said the first words exchanged with his Dad were few last Saturday.
“He walked up to me and gave me a hug and said, 'That was awesome,’” Stoudt recalled. “He was happy and proud and I was glad he was there to see it.”
Having the check mark on passing accuracy, Stoudt says he’s also worked on his running game.
“With this offense, you need to be multiple things,” he said. “In this past year, we've developed a good dual-threat for all of our quarterbacks. Over the summer, I had to learn how to run better. I haven't had that good run capability, but over this past year I've been working on my speed and agility.
“Seeing Tajh handle the offense like that is really good - even though he's taking a beating - it's what we have to do perform for our offense.”