Who'll 'run' the offense? Swinney looking for bigger QB rushing impact

'I just believe that when your quarterback isn’t a threat to run the ball, then we are really playing 10 on 11'

Clemson's Chad Kelly runs for a first down during the fourth quarter at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Chad Kelly runs for a first down during the fourth quarter at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.

For Clemson's next quarterback, the ability to run will be secondary in importance only to his ability to run the offense.

Over his three seasons as a starter, Tajh Boyd developed his ability as a runner, though at first it went against his nature.

Not so with the two youngest competitors for the Tigers' starting job.

Both Chad Kelly and Deshaun Watson made high school history in their states not only as prolific passers, but as dangerous, every-down running threats.

In his career at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute at Niagara Falls, N.Y., Kelly was the state New York's first 2,000-yard passer/1,000-yard rusher. As a senior, he passed for more 3,000 yards and came up just nine yards shy of another 1,000-yard rushing season.

In limited action so far in his career, he's been quick to take advantage of running opportunities, despite playing just months after undergoing ACL surgery.

Watson, meanwhile, comes to Clemson after setting records galore at Gainesville, Ga. High. He went into his senior season already holding the Georgia state record for passing yardage, and he finished his career with more than 13,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards rushing.

And what about Cole Stoudt?

Although Stoudt didn't come to Clemson as a runner, he's spent three years in Chad Morris' offensive system and knows that the quarterback's ability to run is of paramount importance. During the relief stints last season that earned him the Tigers' 12th Man Award for offense, he repeatedly made opponents respect his ability as a runner.

“I think you will continue to see the quarterback be a big factor for us,” coach Dabo Swinney said last week. “I just believe that when your quarterback isn’t a threat to run the ball, then we are really playing 10 on 11. The quarterback is a great equalizer and really stresses the defense. It puts a lot of pressure on the defense. That element has got to improve from where we’ve been and I think it will.”

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Comments » 26

TigerNE writes:

Stoudt has a lot going for him, especially his arm strength and accuracy. But I just don't see him surviving a lot of rushing attempts, especially against large, punishing defenses. He can sprint well when an opening is left, but I just don't see him pushing his way into the end zone like Boyd, for one example.

That's a comment both on his size and power, but also his ability to withstand it. He's like a bag of sticks when he is running.

Xander5000 writes:

My thing is Stoudt could be the surprising X-factor of the offense. Why would you really need to run him so much or any quarterback, when you have multiple running backs and a few fullback types to do it for you. KNOW AND USE WHAT YOU HAVE FIRST. Plus when defenses are accustomed to expect our running backs to get the ball, then Stoudt can surprise them with a run. Also defenses should already be worried about our receivers as it is. Things start up front in the trenches though.....and the rest should flow like the water up there at Sliding Rock.

TigerNE writes:

in response to Xander5000:

My thing is Stoudt could be the surprising X-factor of the offense. Why would you really need to run him so much or any quarterback, when you have multiple running backs and a few fullback types to do it for you. KNOW AND USE WHAT YOU HAVE FIRST. Plus when defenses are accustomed to expect our running backs to get the ball, then Stoudt can surprise them with a run. Also defenses should already be worried about our receivers as it is. Things start up front in the trenches though.....and the rest should flow like the water up there at Sliding Rock.

You run the QB as a strategy in the option plan. So it all depends on the read, and how the defense sets and executes on any given play. Like you say, it's an option. But you have to be able to do more than just run for the open field at times. And Stoudt may not be the guy who can get the extra yard for a first down when needed. I haven't seen a powerful push from him. Could be wrong, he may have done so and I just missed it.

TRUTH4U2 writes:

If you don't think a running QB is important. Then I suggest you watch the last 5 years against USC.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

I always thought it was DUMB DUMB DUMB to run Boyd. If he gets hurt then the season would've been TOAST. Run to take the open field when it's there and then get down or out-of-bounds. Dabo was in love with Boyd running and talked about it all the time but you've got a creative OC who can create enough looks to keep the defense off balance. You didn't need to risk your season by designed running plays for Boyd.

The fact that they want to run the QB even more now just speaks to how they don't have a clear solution at QB. If 1 goes down so what. You came into spring with an open 3-man competition anyway. I don't think this statement by Dabo is a positive sign.

kaplony writes:

Stoudt has shown he can be a threat running the ball when the time comes. He's about the same size as Nick Marshall at Auburn, just a little taller.

People look at what Boyd has done the past three years and think that is what we want our QB to do. Fact is Boyd had to handle the inside running and power runs because he was the only power back on the roster. Kinda like Cam Newton was at Auburn in 2010.

Mahlzan adapted his offense this year to fit the running ability that Marshall has. Marshall wasn't going to get the tough inside yards like Newton did, so he used Marshall primarily as a threat on the edge and used Tre Mason as the primary inside threat. With Dye, Gallman, and possibly McCullough we have bigger backs better capable of handling the inside work so we will not be as reliant on the QB to get those tough yards.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

I always thought it was DUMB DUMB DUMB to run Boyd. If he gets hurt then the season would've been TOAST. Run to take the open field when it's there and then get down or out-of-bounds. Dabo was in love with Boyd running and talked about it all the time but you've got a creative OC who can create enough looks to keep the defense off balance. You didn't need to risk your season by designed running plays for Boyd.

The fact that they want to run the QB even more now just speaks to how they don't have a clear solution at QB. If 1 goes down so what. You came into spring with an open 3-man competition anyway. I don't think this statement by Dabo is a positive sign.

Boyd’s power running was a big part of his game and not using him that way would have been a disservice to the team. That would be kinda like having a Ferrari and never taking it above 55. It’s football, not tennis. To win big you have to take big risk. Many people said the same thing about Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow. Had Tebow gotten hurt those Gator teams would’ve imploded, but had Myer not ran Tebow the way he did those two crystal footballs wouldn’t be sitting in the trophy case down in Gainesville right now.

The game of football has changed forever and the days of the typical offense are over. Pretty soon the immobile drop-back QB will be a dinosaur.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

Boyd’s power running was a big part of his game and not using him that way would have been a disservice to the team. That would be kinda like having a Ferrari and never taking it above 55. It’s football, not tennis. To win big you have to take big risk. Many people said the same thing about Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow. Had Tebow gotten hurt those Gator teams would’ve imploded, but had Myer not ran Tebow the way he did those two crystal footballs wouldn’t be sitting in the trophy case down in Gainesville right now.

The game of football has changed forever and the days of the typical offense are over. Pretty soon the immobile drop-back QB will be a dinosaur.

Mr. Capps correctly pointed out that Boyd had to develop as a runner and that it went against his nature. That's not what he's best at. He's not going to knock people over like Tebow or outrun or make people miss in the open field like a Vick or RG3. You've got skills players who can do that. I'm all for picking up the 1st down and sliding or getting out of bounds. But why put your QB who rewrote your passing record books through that abuse if that's not what he's naturally good at? The risk isn't worth the reward.

I wouldn't have compared Boyd to a Ferrari but I'll go with it. You'd take your Ferrari out on an open road away from traffic and open it up. But you wouldn't drive it downtown in rush-hour traffic or park it in the tight spaces at the Walmart parking lot. You drive a less valuable car to do that.

I've been hearing for years that the game of football has changed forever. Yet when you look in the NFL the best QBs are pocket passers like Manning, Brady, and Luck. The guys who were supposed to have changed the game like Vick and RG3 are getting injured. Pre-snap reads and the ability to make all the throws are still the most important traits of an NFL QB. Show me a running QB and I'll show you a QB who's injury-prone.

Xander5000 writes:

There really shouldn't be any excuses to use Boyd that much 4yds away from the endzone. I saw a game against Va. Tech where Boyd could barely hold on to the ball trying to score a touchdown inside the 5yd line. He may have not wanted to admit it but he took quite a shot previously before those series of plays when we scored. Another game against small profiled SC State, Boyd trying to go over the top to score....got smashed square in the head by a defender's helmet. These kinds of situations is where you have to rely on your O-line and your running backs. No one is going to first consider SC State to threaten anybody to deny them a Divivision-I championship......And a score by our newly storied quarterback is not worth him getting hurt by a team that we should walk the dog on.

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

In all the comments on this so far, the name Deshaun Watson has not been mentioned. He is probably the best running quarterback since Mike Vick. He is awesome and will show his ability in the Spring game. While I really like Stoudt and Kelly they will both be looking at this new kids hind quarter. Wait until you all see this kid run the offense. He will be unstoppable more than likely.

TigerNE writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

Mr. Capps correctly pointed out that Boyd had to develop as a runner and that it went against his nature. That's not what he's best at. He's not going to knock people over like Tebow or outrun or make people miss in the open field like a Vick or RG3. You've got skills players who can do that. I'm all for picking up the 1st down and sliding or getting out of bounds. But why put your QB who rewrote your passing record books through that abuse if that's not what he's naturally good at? The risk isn't worth the reward.

I wouldn't have compared Boyd to a Ferrari but I'll go with it. You'd take your Ferrari out on an open road away from traffic and open it up. But you wouldn't drive it downtown in rush-hour traffic or park it in the tight spaces at the Walmart parking lot. You drive a less valuable car to do that.

I've been hearing for years that the game of football has changed forever. Yet when you look in the NFL the best QBs are pocket passers like Manning, Brady, and Luck. The guys who were supposed to have changed the game like Vick and RG3 are getting injured. Pre-snap reads and the ability to make all the throws are still the most important traits of an NFL QB. Show me a running QB and I'll show you a QB who's injury-prone.

I don't think there were that many designed runs for Boyd. The main reason to put your QB who created new passing records into the position to run is to give him the option in the spread scheme. But I seem to recall earlier this year when Boyd was told to avoid running because of the prior injury he was worse at decision making under pressure. Once he started to use the run option again, his confidence went high and games got better.

And running QBs are getting more common. Most QB injuries are still not due to running. And besides the obvious newer guys like Russell Wilson or Cam Newton or Nick Foles or even Ryan Tannehill who make running a staple of their strategy, without getting injured, there are others like Alex Smith and Jay Cutler who get decent yardage from running without injury. It's rare for the "old school" guys like Brady or Matt Ryan to run unless they must, but it is still becoming more and more popular. Wise or not.

harryD writes:

Yabba and truth are obviously spring chickens without the history channel... Dylan is gonna get rocked and we will still shut down your prize Davis. ..just like we did Lattimore. .but congrats on the five. ...almost can't remember that weather in Colombia that day... Hi 63 Lo 17...

harryD writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Dabo is sort of starting Deshaun Watson as the first team guy and he will have to lose his job. If he is half as good as he was in high school he will run roughshod over any and all defenses we play next year. He is a dangerous runner. Just like Vick was a VA Tech. Having a quarterback that can run real well is like having another tailback in the backfield. Otherwise, it's 11 guys on defense playing against 10 on offense. That's one of the reason a team with a good defense is good. They play against a lot of teams that have a drop back passer.

f8thwlk writes:

All who say the QB shouldn't necessarily run the ball your argument is OBE. Running QB's are here to stay. Football has evolved since the time when you played... Running QB's put so much pressure on the defense the the risks of the QB getting hurt are outweighed by his contributions to the ground game. One dimensional passers are easy to defend...Just blitz the you-know-what out of them. They are sitting ducks back there. A good running QB is the natural counter to a blitzing defense.

TRUTH4U2 writes:

in response to harryD:

Yabba and truth are obviously spring chickens without the history channel... Dylan is gonna get rocked and we will still shut down your prize Davis. ..just like we did Lattimore. .but congrats on the five. ...almost can't remember that weather in Colombia that day... Hi 63 Lo 17...

Obviously your still butt hurt from the last five years. Either that or your suffering from an extreme case of cranial rectum insertion. One was merely pointing out the fact that a running QB is a great equalizer for an average O-line (in which Clemsux has)and with a decent running QB the options are limited (see Oregon, Auburn and yes even USC). How did that rocking of Dylan go last time up there in Kitty Valley?

clemvol writes:

To have a running QB and to tell you need to make sure it's in your game plan tells me you don't have an Offensive line and you don't have a brusing runningback and don't forsee this in the near future. It also tells me you don't have a QB that can think quick and can make the short throws over the middle in traffic. Yes, you can run your QB against lesser defenses but when a team or teams have fast linebackers and or a blitz package with several disguises then a running QB is a mute point. Stop trying to out finese your opponent ( and it doesn't work against a good defense, we've already seen this ).Focus needs to be on building a great defense, steady offense and a QB that doesn't do anything ( or gets hurt ) to lose a game for you. Maybe i'm too old school but i still don't think a "flash and dash" offense trying to simply outscore the other team works.

AFTiger87 writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

Mr. Capps correctly pointed out that Boyd had to develop as a runner and that it went against his nature. That's not what he's best at. He's not going to knock people over like Tebow or outrun or make people miss in the open field like a Vick or RG3. You've got skills players who can do that. I'm all for picking up the 1st down and sliding or getting out of bounds. But why put your QB who rewrote your passing record books through that abuse if that's not what he's naturally good at? The risk isn't worth the reward.

I wouldn't have compared Boyd to a Ferrari but I'll go with it. You'd take your Ferrari out on an open road away from traffic and open it up. But you wouldn't drive it downtown in rush-hour traffic or park it in the tight spaces at the Walmart parking lot. You drive a less valuable car to do that.

I've been hearing for years that the game of football has changed forever. Yet when you look in the NFL the best QBs are pocket passers like Manning, Brady, and Luck. The guys who were supposed to have changed the game like Vick and RG3 are getting injured. Pre-snap reads and the ability to make all the throws are still the most important traits of an NFL QB. Show me a running QB and I'll show you a QB who's injury-prone.

Scam Newton had the most passing yardage of any QB in his first 2 or 3 years, but he was a threat to run. Russell Wilson is another guy. He would rather pass it, but teams still have to be able to contain him or he can make them pay. CK in SF is another guy. His passing yards ins't as good, but he is an accurate passer and a good runner. All those guys have big power backs behind them as well that they could just rely on them, but they don't.

AFTiger87 writes:

in response to TRUTH4U2:

Obviously your still butt hurt from the last five years. Either that or your suffering from an extreme case of cranial rectum insertion. One was merely pointing out the fact that a running QB is a great equalizer for an average O-line (in which Clemsux has)and with a decent running QB the options are limited (see Oregon, Auburn and yes even USC). How did that rocking of Dylan go last time up there in Kitty Valley?

You look at the last time Dylan was in that game, Clemson's defense wasn't very good. The defense has made tremendous strides the past year and will continue, or should. Yes, Shaw was still able to run this year, but Clemson shut him down for the most part. Take the TOs away and it's a completely different ball game, but that is part of the game though. USC losing Shaw will be bigger than most realize, his will to win and play won't be easy to reproduce.

radtiger writes:

in response to AFTiger87:

You look at the last time Dylan was in that game, Clemson's defense wasn't very good. The defense has made tremendous strides the past year and will continue, or should. Yes, Shaw was still able to run this year, but Clemson shut him down for the most part. Take the TOs away and it's a completely different ball game, but that is part of the game though. USC losing Shaw will be bigger than most realize, his will to win and play won't be easy to reproduce.

Dont think that we didnt lose Key players as well....Without Boyd and Watkins....We are going to be pitaful....Those 2 had Chemistry like no other.We may have a stronger than normal defense this coming year but our Offense will be hurting big time.

FlopEye writes:

in response to harryD:

Yabba and truth are obviously spring chickens without the history channel... Dylan is gonna get rocked and we will still shut down your prize Davis. ..just like we did Lattimore. .but congrats on the five. ...almost can't remember that weather in Colombia that day... Hi 63 Lo 17...

Yes, almost as I can't remember the weather in
Miami when the high was 70 and the low was 33.

AFTiger87 writes:

in response to radtiger:

Dont think that we didnt lose Key players as well....Without Boyd and Watkins....We are going to be pitaful....Those 2 had Chemistry like no other.We may have a stronger than normal defense this coming year but our Offense will be hurting big time.

I never said we didn't. I don't think the offense will miss much of a beat. Everyone said the same thing when Ellington & Hopkins left. Will it be hard to replace Sammy and Tajh, yes. They have the WR's, QB's, TE's, and RB's to be able to still be good. The beginning of the year will be up and down at QB position with consistency, MAYBE. I was referring to Shaw's mentality for winning. With your last sentence you sound more like a coot than anything.

harryD writes:

in response to FlopEye:

Yes, almost as I can't remember the weather in
Miami when the high was 70 and the low was 33.

How about that 56.17 day in Atlanta. ..now that was special too that's the high point of your sec career right East Champs!

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to harryD:

How about that 56.17 day in Atlanta. ..now that was special too that's the high point of your sec career right East Champs!

How about these days Hairy...31-17, 27-17, 34-13, 29-7, and 34-17. Some in Columbia, and some in the up-state. Yes sir, special days. You remember those days EZZ and BCS bowl champs?

radtiger writes:

in response to AFTiger87:

I never said we didn't. I don't think the offense will miss much of a beat. Everyone said the same thing when Ellington & Hopkins left. Will it be hard to replace Sammy and Tajh, yes. They have the WR's, QB's, TE's, and RB's to be able to still be good. The beginning of the year will be up and down at QB position with consistency, MAYBE. I was referring to Shaw's mentality for winning. With your last sentence you sound more like a coot than anything.

Call me a Coot or anything else that will make you feel better, but name calling is a sure sign of inmaturity....Instead of worrying about Shaw's mentality, maybe you should worry about your own.BTW....Tajh wasnt the brightest bulb in the bunch....he would get a brain freeze anytime he was up against a strong defense.

AFTiger87 writes:

in response to radtiger:

Call me a Coot or anything else that will make you feel better, but name calling is a sure sign of inmaturity....Instead of worrying about Shaw's mentality, maybe you should worry about your own.BTW....Tajh wasnt the brightest bulb in the bunch....he would get a brain freeze anytime he was up against a strong defense.

Someone can't take a joke. So what is it about my mentality I should be worrying about? This all goes back to how you didn't understand what I said originally. BTW you brought up Tajh and now you're bashing him? There were times he made questionable decisions, he went up against several strong defenses and played great. LSU, VT in '11 & '12, FSU '12 just to name a few games he played great in but the defenses finished the year in the top 20.

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