CLEMSON – October of 2010, Dublin Coffman (Ohio) quarterback Cole Stoudt committed to Clemson.
That senior year he broke school records in passing yards and touchdowns held by former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn – setting school marks in completions and wins as well.
January of 2011, he was on campus as an early enrollee to compete with this redshirt sophomore gunslinger – Tajh Boyd – in Chad Morris’ new hurry-up no-huddle.
Four spring camps later, Stoudt is set to make his first start on the road at Georgia on Aug. 30.
From the midpoint of spring on, Stoudt said he had a good idea of how the quarterback battle was going, but was leaving it up to the coaches. In naming him starter, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney made a point of saying the veteran quarterback “never once complained.”
Stoudt says he accomplished what he set out to do this spring.
“I’ve improved myself and improved my role on this team,” he said after the Orange and White game. “That was my goal this spring. To improve myself and everything – throwing, reading, being a good team player.”
“Just focusing on getting better and making myself the best I can be…Not just me, go out there and be a leader, find other leaders. Have team bonding over the summer and come back in the fall and light it up. Take off running.”
The fourth-year senior completed 15-of-23 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game last week. Pleased with the day’s events, Stoudt said he was going to go right back to work reviewing the film. Helping him in particular this offseason is former NFL quarterback dad, Cliff Stoudt.
“I’m happy with how I played,” he said. “I went out there and showed what I can do. Made the right reads – I know I missed a few. Can’t be perfect. I’ll watch film either my Dad (or on my own). Get in there and see what I did and work on that the rest of spring and summer. I just have to correct what I did wrong.
“I had a good spring. Excited to see how this fall is going to turn out.”
Stoudt has played in 22 games, owning a 72.3 career completion percentage with eight touchdown passes to one interception.
Last season, he completed 29 of his first 31 attempts with four touchdowns to no picks. Stoudt said he’s taken Morris’ coaching to heart here – and even improved in the area.
“Coach always emphasizes completions-completions-completions,” he said. “Get your team down the field. Even if it’s a three-yard throw – just getting down the field. Throughout spring I think I’ve really improved on my throwing and my reads and having all the chemistry and everything with all the players.”
The lanky 6-5 signal-caller has attempted just 12 first-half passes, completing 80 percent of them for 81 yards and a touchdown. On the road, he’s posted a 65.5 completion percentage with a touchdown and no interceptions.
Swinney’s on record of saying Stoudt is a better runner than Boyd, but he hasn’t had many opportunities to show that – just 29 career rushes.
Last year, he went from zero rushing scores to two – one in the final minutes against Florida State. In the last two seasons, Stoudt has averaged 4.7 yards per rush. In some ways, that high per rush average is avoiding sacks and a low volume of carries. Tajh Boyd averaged 2.7 yards per with at least 400 rushing yards in each of the last years.
The question this season will be if the coaches change strategy on down-and-short situations, where a good chunk of Boyd’s carries came last year in a modified Wildcat look. Those were converted into first downs 76 percent of the time with two touchdowns (one, a 48-yard score in the Orange Bowl). Stoudt, with a more slight build, will likely hand it off more in those situations (two carries last year in down-and-two or less yards to go, 50/50 conversion rate).
“I feel comfortable with how I performed (this spring),” Stoudt . “There’s still room for improvement. There’s a lot till fall. I’m going to have my meeting with coach and go from there.”