Dabo Swinney says Tigers will be well-led, whoever wins starting QB job

When it comes to leadership qualities, coach says 'you can check the box on all of them'

Quarterbacks Chad Kelly (l) and Cole Stoudt

Photo by Mark Crammer

Quarterbacks Chad Kelly (l) and Cole Stoudt

Dabo Swinney has no idea how the Tigers' four-way, spring-and-summer battle at quarterback will resolve itself.

But whoever wins the starting job, Swinney is confident that the Tiger offense will be in good hands.

“We’ve got four quarterbacks that are great, natural leaders,” Swinney said. “That’s just in their DNA.

“Their personalities are different. Cole Stoudt is an excellent leader, as is Chad Kelly. He’s going to be out in front in everything, right in the middle of it. DeShaun Watson has been a starting quarterback since the ninth grade, and grade school. He’s used to it. Nick Schuessler came in here as a walk-on and he’s a guy we have to have at that position, and he’s also an excellent leader.

“That quality, you can check the box on all of them.”

Stoudt comes into the competition with a clear advantage in experience, having spent three seasons, and an extra spring, in Chad Morris' offense as Tajh Boyd's backup. Kelly has spent two seasons in meetings and has gotten his feet wet on the field, while Schuessler isn't a typical walk-on, having been initially signed as a scholarship player by an SEC school.

Watson, meanwhile, was hand-picked by Morris as just what he wants from a quarterback.

Swinney said when the competition begins, “everything counts.”

“The situation here is that we have some really good players and some great talent at that position,” said Swinney. “We'll let them go compete. Everything counts. When you have a situation like this, it’s your academics, it’s your leadership, how you respond to coaching, it’s performance, it’s practice.

“Everything counts when you have to make a tough decision. I’m really looking forward to it because I think we have great candidates.”

He said both Kelly and Stoudt have already demonstrated their initiative in preparing for the competition.

“I’ve seen Chad out on the field doing drills by himself,” Swinney said. “I had to go do a little video over in the indoor practice facility, and there’s Cole working by himself, doing drills. Those are things that you like to see because you know you’ve got guys that really want to be the guy and that they are going to go above and beyond to give themselves a chance to win the job.

“And then you throw in Deshaun, who is as talented of a guy as we’ve ever signed here. It’s exciting. At the end of the day, we are going to have a guy ready to go when it comes time to play, but we’ve got a long way to go before we figure all of that out.”

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Comments » 8

TigerNE writes:

Academics will count? Surely that just means any QB who is considered for the role must be passing and up to date, no?

TigerFan95 writes:

Stoudt is going to be a solid, game manager type QB for us as the starter and Kelly will be a change of pace type guy coming in off the bench a couple series each game. I would prefer that Watson redshirt, but I think he'll end up seeing the field several times this year. All in all our offense is going to be solid but perhaps not quite as explosive as we have been with Watkins and Boyd. We'll be more ground and pound and try control the clock a little more. That could be a good thing because it will further help our defense which I think is going to be our best since the late 80's and early 90's.

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

Get an offensive guard to be a leader. Get a guy that can move the ball up and down the field and score touchdowns to play quarterback. The quarterback doesn't necessarily have to be some kind of gift from God with all kind of leadership skills. You don't huddle up anymore so he doesn't have time to give any pep talks before the snap. Get a QB that can run the offense and if he happens to be like Tajh seemed to be then fine. If not, that's ok, too. Someone else will be the leader.

eyeofthetigers94 writes:

I think Stoudt will lead the offense this coming year, purely on knowledge and Morris's comfort level with him. Seems highly accurate and good recognition but a bit slow on a scramble. I still think if we can get a big RB and then a speedy one like the old thunder and lightning duo we had with CJ and James in this offense we'd be crazy good. WR is going to be a problem for a while

TigerNE writes:

I keep reading opinions from fans that all three QBs will see playing time. To me it defies logic. The only circumstance where Watson doesn't RS is if Stoudt and Kelly just tank and cannot lead the team and win games. Or there is a season ending injury early on. Chances of that are almost nil. If you can even just get by with the duo, you put Watson in a position to learn and develop and save him for 2015 through his departure.

TigerNE writes:

in response to eyeofthetigers94:

I think Stoudt will lead the offense this coming year, purely on knowledge and Morris's comfort level with him. Seems highly accurate and good recognition but a bit slow on a scramble. I still think if we can get a big RB and then a speedy one like the old thunder and lightning duo we had with CJ and James in this offense we'd be crazy good. WR is going to be a problem for a while

With a healthy Peake and Williams winning a starting slot, I think we have a good chance of starting off strong at WR. A lot is riding on Peake getting back into the game, though.

But even if we start off with a rusty passing game, we potentially have a much stronger and more versatile running game to offset it.

CharlestonTiger writes:

I think Stoudt will emerge as the starter due to knowledge and passing accuracy. Hopefully he will not get as flustered under pressure as Boyd did and throw costly int's, especially against FSU and usc.

The fact still remains that if Clemson does not start recruiting and developing a better offensive line the results against the those two teams will remain the same. A running game will be hard to come by with what is currently on the O-line no matter how good the backs are.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to TigerNE:

I keep reading opinions from fans that all three QBs will see playing time. To me it defies logic. The only circumstance where Watson doesn't RS is if Stoudt and Kelly just tank and cannot lead the team and win games. Or there is a season ending injury early on. Chances of that are almost nil. If you can even just get by with the duo, you put Watson in a position to learn and develop and save him for 2015 through his departure.

Normally I would agree that Watson has no chance of playing next year, but CFB has changed a lot recently and it makes better sense to play guys as true freshmen because they are leaving earlier than ever for the NFL. Unless you have a well-established guy ahead of an elite level incoming freshman like Watson, it makes better sense to play him early because that guy is not going to stick around for 4 or 5 years anyway. If you play him as true freshman you’re sure to get three years with him on the field, however if you redshirt him you will get only two years with him on the field if he decides to leave after his RS Sophomore year. Take Sammy Watkins for example. If we had redshirted him he would still be leaving this year as a RS sophomore having only played on the field this year and last. Instead, he’s leaving as a true junior having played three full years.

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