CFB mags differ on Clemson QB, agree on expectations

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, left, watches Clemson's Cole Stoudt throw during practice at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, left, watches Clemson's Cole Stoudt throw during practice at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

Not everybody is assuming Cole Stoudt is the sure QB1 come Aug. 30 in Athens.

Phil Steele pegged Clemson as the No. 23 team in the country this week, also projecting early-enrollee true freshman Deshaun Watson as the Tigers’ starter.

The five-star Gainesville, Georgia native finished a prolific high school career with over 13,000 passing yards, 4,000 rushing yards and 200-plus touchdowns (214).

He was hot on the heels of Stoudt and Chad Kelly this spring before suffering a collarbone injury in a live scrimmage, which held him out of the eventful Orange and White game.

“Stoudt was named the starter post-spring,” Steele wrote, “but I expect the battle between him, true frosh Deshaun Watson (PS#2, IFS) and Nick Schuessler to resume in the fall. Head coach Dabo Swinney will develop a solid QB, but they won't match Boyd's outstanding numbers.”

Steele’s expectations are tempered on the whole, citing the schedule as another roadblock.

“In Dabo Swinney's first two full seasons he lost a total of 12 games but has now put together back-to-back11-2 seasons,” said Steele. “CU joins Bama and Baylor as the only teams with at least one win over a Top 10 team each of last three years.”

“They draw GT and UNC out of the Coastal, UGA and SC out of the SEC and naturally face #1 Florida State but this year on the road. With the tougher schedule and big player losses, I don't see CU matching last year’s 11 win total.”

More Steele team notes…

Georgia: Clemson is 2-5 since 1970 starting the season away from Clemson.

Florida State: Clemson is 6-3 since 2006 against top-10 teams.

Louisville: The Tigers are 18-2 in their last 20 ACC home games.

Georgia Tech: The visitor is 1-8 in the last nine in the series.

Athlon among crowd picking Tigers as ACC’s next-best

Three Tigers were named to Athlon’s first-team All-ACC ‘D,’ off a team projected to go 9-3 (7-1 ACC).

They believe Stoudt will have a “solid” senior campaign.

“Tajh Boyd leaves big shoes to fill at (No. 21) Clemson, but Stoudt appears to be a capable replacement,” Athlon wrote. “In relief work last year, Stoudt completed 47 of 59 passes for 415 yards and five touchdowns. Asking Stoudt to replicate Boyd’s numbers is a tough assignment. However, with experience, mobility and a good grasp of the offense, Stoudt should have a solid senior year.”

The Tigers’ performance in rivalry games holds the key to taking the next step.

“The Tigers have yet to solve rivals Florida State and South Carolina, going 0–4 against them in the past two years,” said Athlon. “Swinney and Co. have a stingy, improving defense and the talent to replace major offensive losses, but it’s hard to see how this group could take the leap from consistent program to national title contender this fall.”

Athlon’s ACC picks

Atlantic

1. Florida State

2. Clemson (9-3, 7-1)

3. Louisville

4. Syracuse

5. Boston College

6. N.C. State

7. Wake Forest

Coastal

1. Virginia Tech

2. Miami

3. North Carolina

4. Pittsburgh

5. Duke

6. Georgia Tech

7. Virginia

Championship: FSU over Virginia Tech

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Comments » 13

fasttiger44#293363 writes:

I think Clemson will have the best team they have every had this year if the young players perform as advertised. If I am right, we will be 12 and 0, play in the ACC championship game and then be in the top 4. It is likey we get beat in Tallahassee but still win the rest and may still wind up in the top 4. Our entire year depends on our young players and if they come thru for us. Our defense will be awesome and I don't see anyone running the ball with too much success. Maybe a little more success thru the air but, our secondary should be very much improved. I have been around a long time and this team is gonna surprise a lot of people with just how good they "may" be. Let's hope I am right in what I am predicting.

TigerNE writes:

Few opinions from analysts I've read so far are dead wrong or even mostly wrong. But so many who think it will be a 3 loss year and wonder about Stoudt, rightfully, ignore a few key points. Stoudt has a proven arm. He has more targets than Boyd had - or more "potentially" reliable targets. Humprhies, Seckinger, Williams, and to a certain extent Hopper and Peake are knowns. Leggett is less known although has great potential. Throw in at least one of the freshmen like Priester and Scott, and the depth for catching is at a high.

But the real missing part of the analysis is how much different the skill for a ground game may be. And Morris makes no secret that he will use that as much as he can or wants.

So while Boyd and Watkins will be "tough to replace", yadda yadda, the voids could be filled a number of ways. Our offense will look very different, but it's not like there isn't depth in the back, middle, and ends of it.

At least the opinion makers should be acknowledging that and not just being so predictably one-dimensional about it. Yeah, there is some newer talent on offense. BUT.....

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to fasttiger44#293363:

I think Clemson will have the best team they have every had this year if the young players perform as advertised. If I am right, we will be 12 and 0, play in the ACC championship game and then be in the top 4. It is likey we get beat in Tallahassee but still win the rest and may still wind up in the top 4. Our entire year depends on our young players and if they come thru for us. Our defense will be awesome and I don't see anyone running the ball with too much success. Maybe a little more success thru the air but, our secondary should be very much improved. I have been around a long time and this team is gonna surprise a lot of people with just how good they "may" be. Let's hope I am right in what I am predicting.

You're replacing the QB that rewrote your school's passing records. You're replacing your 1,000 yard rusher who, along with your QB, took every meaningful carry last season. And you've lost your top 2 receivers to the NFL. 18 guys caught footballs for Clemson last year. 3 of them (Watkins, Bryant, McDowell) had more than half your total receptions. All 3 are gone. Basically, every guy who made a play on offense last year is gone. And you're going to somehow be even better and have your best team ever?

As far as your defense goes, look at how many points you gave up against the dwarves on your schedule compared to your ranked opponents. Against SCST(13), NCST(14), WF(7), Syracuse(14), BC(14), MD(27), UVA(10), GT(31), Citadel(6) you gave up an average of 17 points. Against UGA(35), FSU(51), SC(31), and OSU(35), you gave up an average of 38 points. You didn't stop good teams. You had to OUTSCORE them. With the players you lost on offense, you won't be able to match last year's numbers. And breaking in a new cast of characters on offense in Athens and Tallahassee to start the season doesn't bode well for you.

Nothing but homer-talk from you. You've got some rose-colored glasses and you're going to be disappointed.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to TigerNE:

Few opinions from analysts I've read so far are dead wrong or even mostly wrong. But so many who think it will be a 3 loss year and wonder about Stoudt, rightfully, ignore a few key points. Stoudt has a proven arm. He has more targets than Boyd had - or more "potentially" reliable targets. Humprhies, Seckinger, Williams, and to a certain extent Hopper and Peake are knowns. Leggett is less known although has great potential. Throw in at least one of the freshmen like Priester and Scott, and the depth for catching is at a high.

But the real missing part of the analysis is how much different the skill for a ground game may be. And Morris makes no secret that he will use that as much as he can or wants.

So while Boyd and Watkins will be "tough to replace", yadda yadda, the voids could be filled a number of ways. Our offense will look very different, but it's not like there isn't depth in the back, middle, and ends of it.

At least the opinion makers should be acknowledging that and not just being so predictably one-dimensional about it. Yeah, there is some newer talent on offense. BUT.....

What the analysts realize that every Clemson fan doesn't is that Stoudt hasn't taken any meaningful snaps. He's had success against SCST at home and he'll get to do that again this year. But he's starting his 1st campaign as a starter in Athens and then Tallahassee in game 3. And let's just be honest for a second here. If Dabo had the type of confidence in Stoudt as a senior who has waited for this opportunity for 3 years then there wouldn't have been a need for him to compete for the QB job. He would've just named him the starter. You only have a QB competition when you don't know if you have a QB. Kelly was a major problem before he even stepped foot on campus and he still had a chance to win the job right up until he got himself kicked off the team. And Phil Steele isn't the first analyst that I've seen suggest that Stoudt, a senior with 3 years experience in this offense, will be beaten out at some point by Watson who is a true freshman. You say Stoudt has "a proven arm". Proven against who? Throwing to who? The people who made MOST of the plays last year are gone. And you're playing the 2 toughest games on your schedule against very experienced teams on the road to start the season. You don't have 8 games to figure out who your QB is or iron out the kinks in your offense. That's why most people have you losing 2-3 games. And if Watson is named starter at any point in the season then that means Stoudt was a disaster and you're looking at maybe even 4 losses.

I'm not sure where you get "more targets" or "more potentially reliable targets" from. As I already pointed out, 3 guys out of the 18 who caught footballs had more than half your receptions last year. They're gone. You really have no idea yet what you've got to throw the ball to.

The assumption among Clemson fans is that Stoudt will magically turn into Boyd and whoever lines up on the outside will magically turn into Watkins and Bryant. Anyone who thinks Clemson will just line up and be as good as last year are fooling themselves.

33dtb writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

You're replacing the QB that rewrote your school's passing records. You're replacing your 1,000 yard rusher who, along with your QB, took every meaningful carry last season. And you've lost your top 2 receivers to the NFL. 18 guys caught footballs for Clemson last year. 3 of them (Watkins, Bryant, McDowell) had more than half your total receptions. All 3 are gone. Basically, every guy who made a play on offense last year is gone. And you're going to somehow be even better and have your best team ever?

As far as your defense goes, look at how many points you gave up against the dwarves on your schedule compared to your ranked opponents. Against SCST(13), NCST(14), WF(7), Syracuse(14), BC(14), MD(27), UVA(10), GT(31), Citadel(6) you gave up an average of 17 points. Against UGA(35), FSU(51), SC(31), and OSU(35), you gave up an average of 38 points. You didn't stop good teams. You had to OUTSCORE them. With the players you lost on offense, you won't be able to match last year's numbers. And breaking in a new cast of characters on offense in Athens and Tallahassee to start the season doesn't bode well for you.

Nothing but homer-talk from you. You've got some rose-colored glasses and you're going to be disappointed.

So, what ABOUT the gamecocks ????

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

What the analysts realize that every Clemson fan doesn't is that Stoudt hasn't taken any meaningful snaps. He's had success against SCST at home and he'll get to do that again this year. But he's starting his 1st campaign as a starter in Athens and then Tallahassee in game 3. And let's just be honest for a second here. If Dabo had the type of confidence in Stoudt as a senior who has waited for this opportunity for 3 years then there wouldn't have been a need for him to compete for the QB job. He would've just named him the starter. You only have a QB competition when you don't know if you have a QB. Kelly was a major problem before he even stepped foot on campus and he still had a chance to win the job right up until he got himself kicked off the team. And Phil Steele isn't the first analyst that I've seen suggest that Stoudt, a senior with 3 years experience in this offense, will be beaten out at some point by Watson who is a true freshman. You say Stoudt has "a proven arm". Proven against who? Throwing to who? The people who made MOST of the plays last year are gone. And you're playing the 2 toughest games on your schedule against very experienced teams on the road to start the season. You don't have 8 games to figure out who your QB is or iron out the kinks in your offense. That's why most people have you losing 2-3 games. And if Watson is named starter at any point in the season then that means Stoudt was a disaster and you're looking at maybe even 4 losses.

I'm not sure where you get "more targets" or "more potentially reliable targets" from. As I already pointed out, 3 guys out of the 18 who caught footballs had more than half your receptions last year. They're gone. You really have no idea yet what you've got to throw the ball to.

The assumption among Clemson fans is that Stoudt will magically turn into Boyd and whoever lines up on the outside will magically turn into Watkins and Bryant. Anyone who thinks Clemson will just line up and be as good as last year are fooling themselves.

Dabo, and everyone else has known since the Orange Bowl that Stoudt had about a 90% likelihood of being the starter this year. The fact that he advertised it as an open competition was a motivation ploy and nothing else. Yes, Stoudt has not thrown a "meaningful" pass, but last I looked there are about a half dozen or more schools in the pre-season top-25 that are in the exact same situation---Heck, Bama's starting QB doesn't even have his student ID yet. As for our WRs, yes we will miss Sammy, but in case you haven't noticed, Clemson's WR corps has been a revolving door of quality WRs for about 15 yrs now. There's still plenty of talent there to throw to this year----trust me. Rod McDowell? Yes he rushed for 1000 yards, but honestly, do you really think he's not replaceable with Gallman, Brooks, Howard, Davidson or Dye if healthy or perhaps even one of the three pretty good freshmen we have coming in? Seems like this time last year I remember folks like you saying we would never be able to replace Ellington with McDowell. I think that worked out OK.

As for the comments about our defense...Looking at just the points doesnt give the whole story of how those four games went. Fact is, the only "bad" game our defense played was FSU. And didn't UGA also score 41 on SC, 44 on LSU and 38 on SEC Champion Auburn? Were all those SEC defenses horrible too? Plus, even when decimated with injuries UGA still scored 23 on another very good SEC defense in UF...not bad...As for SC, our defense limited them to 178 passing and 140 rushing yards..Mike Davis had 22 yards on 15 carries!! And don't you think those SIX turnovers inflated the score just a bit? How many defenses give up only 35 points when their offense and special teams turn the ball over SIX TIMES? And Ohio St? Weren't they ranked #1 or # 2 most of all last season? Didn't they have one of the best, if not THE best offense in the country last year?

That said, will this year's Clemson team be the best ever? Likely not, but thinking so is just the fun part about this time of year. It's quite reasonable to think we stand a good chance of being a very, very good team. Upsetting UGA given their questions at QB and CB is very plausible, FSU not so much. SC is a 50/50 game and the rest are between 75-99% likely wins. 11-1 is a bit lofty to expect but I like our chances of going 10-2. 9-3 or 8-4 would be a bit disappointing but still solid year and not heartbreaking if either included a SC victory. 7-5 or worse would be an embarrassment no matter the scenario.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

Dabo, and everyone else has known since the Orange Bowl that Stoudt had about a 90% likelihood of being the starter this year. The fact that he advertised it as an open competition was a motivation ploy and nothing else. Yes, Stoudt has not thrown a "meaningful" pass, but last I looked there are about a half dozen or more schools in the pre-season top-25 that are in the exact same situation---Heck, Bama's starting QB doesn't even have his student ID yet. As for our WRs, yes we will miss Sammy, but in case you haven't noticed, Clemson's WR corps has been a revolving door of quality WRs for about 15 yrs now. There's still plenty of talent there to throw to this year----trust me. Rod McDowell? Yes he rushed for 1000 yards, but honestly, do you really think he's not replaceable with Gallman, Brooks, Howard, Davidson or Dye if healthy or perhaps even one of the three pretty good freshmen we have coming in? Seems like this time last year I remember folks like you saying we would never be able to replace Ellington with McDowell. I think that worked out OK.

As for the comments about our defense...Looking at just the points doesnt give the whole story of how those four games went. Fact is, the only "bad" game our defense played was FSU. And didn't UGA also score 41 on SC, 44 on LSU and 38 on SEC Champion Auburn? Were all those SEC defenses horrible too? Plus, even when decimated with injuries UGA still scored 23 on another very good SEC defense in UF...not bad...As for SC, our defense limited them to 178 passing and 140 rushing yards..Mike Davis had 22 yards on 15 carries!! And don't you think those SIX turnovers inflated the score just a bit? How many defenses give up only 35 points when their offense and special teams turn the ball over SIX TIMES? And Ohio St? Weren't they ranked #1 or # 2 most of all last season? Didn't they have one of the best, if not THE best offense in the country last year?

That said, will this year's Clemson team be the best ever? Likely not, but thinking so is just the fun part about this time of year. It's quite reasonable to think we stand a good chance of being a very, very good team. Upsetting UGA given their questions at QB and CB is very plausible, FSU not so much. SC is a 50/50 game and the rest are between 75-99% likely wins. 11-1 is a bit lofty to expect but I like our chances of going 10-2. 9-3 or 8-4 would be a bit disappointing but still solid year and not heartbreaking if either included a SC victory. 7-5 or worse would be an embarrassment no matter the scenario.

An open QB competition is just that. It wasn't a motivation ploy. Stoudt has held a clipboard for 3 years waiting for this 1 and ONLY season. If he needs motivation NOW then you've proven my point that you don't know who your QB is.

Here's what's wrong with your point about Alabama. When do they play a game against a team capable of testing them? WV, Florida Atlantic, and Southern Miss... those games will be over by halftime no matter who Bama started at QB. They get Florida at home. Alabama has more than enough talent to win that game by at least 3 TDs. That's 4 games for Coker before Bama could possibly get a reasonable challenge at OleMiss. And they don't get LSU or Auburn until November. Their schedule is almost perfect to break in a new QB. And remember that there is no team with as much pure talent as Alabama. Cole Stoudt has to be excellent starting from his 1st snap. There's no room for growing pains with @UGA and @FSU to start the season. That's why the analysts are saying that Clemson could take a step back this year.

This time last year you saw 3 games on your schedule that would pose a challenge: UGA, FSU, and South Carolina. This year you have the same 3 teams on your schedule and they figure to be just as tough as they were last year. If I'm a Clemson fan, I would've liked my chances more last year than this year given what you know you had on offense. There's 2 more games that could trip you up if you're not playing well: UNC and GT. I've seen the analysts rank UNC higher than Clemson in some preseason rankings and to be fair, I disagree with them b/c of UNC's poor defense and record @Clemson. But if Clemson struggles, it's POSSIBLE that UNC could pull out a win. GT could be tough for Clemson for the same reason. They've had a hard time in Bobby Dodd in recent years and Johnson's scheme eats clock which means fewer possessions and fewer possessions amplifies QB mistakes. If Stoudt struggles then GT will be a tough game. The other 7 games on Clemson's schedule are dog poo. They can play bad and still win those games by at least 2 TDs.

My money would be on 9-2 going into the SC game and who knows how that one will go. I've picked Clemson to win it for the past 3 years and look how that turned out. I could see a scenario where Clemson loses to UGA and FSU and Stoudt doesn't look good, Stoudt and Watson split time against UNC, and Watson is named the starter before the NCSTATE game knowing there's a ton of W's in front of them leading up to SC. You still win at least 9 games AND you've got a talented and experienced QB coming back next year with 3 years of eligibility left. If Watson is healthy, don't be surprised if Dabo has a quick trigger early in the season.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

An open QB competition is just that. It wasn't a motivation ploy. Stoudt has held a clipboard for 3 years waiting for this 1 and ONLY season. If he needs motivation NOW then you've proven my point that you don't know who your QB is.

Here's what's wrong with your point about Alabama. When do they play a game against a team capable of testing them? WV, Florida Atlantic, and Southern Miss... those games will be over by halftime no matter who Bama started at QB. They get Florida at home. Alabama has more than enough talent to win that game by at least 3 TDs. That's 4 games for Coker before Bama could possibly get a reasonable challenge at OleMiss. And they don't get LSU or Auburn until November. Their schedule is almost perfect to break in a new QB. And remember that there is no team with as much pure talent as Alabama. Cole Stoudt has to be excellent starting from his 1st snap. There's no room for growing pains with @UGA and @FSU to start the season. That's why the analysts are saying that Clemson could take a step back this year.

This time last year you saw 3 games on your schedule that would pose a challenge: UGA, FSU, and South Carolina. This year you have the same 3 teams on your schedule and they figure to be just as tough as they were last year. If I'm a Clemson fan, I would've liked my chances more last year than this year given what you know you had on offense. There's 2 more games that could trip you up if you're not playing well: UNC and GT. I've seen the analysts rank UNC higher than Clemson in some preseason rankings and to be fair, I disagree with them b/c of UNC's poor defense and record @Clemson. But if Clemson struggles, it's POSSIBLE that UNC could pull out a win. GT could be tough for Clemson for the same reason. They've had a hard time in Bobby Dodd in recent years and Johnson's scheme eats clock which means fewer possessions and fewer possessions amplifies QB mistakes. If Stoudt struggles then GT will be a tough game. The other 7 games on Clemson's schedule are dog poo. They can play bad and still win those games by at least 2 TDs.

My money would be on 9-2 going into the SC game and who knows how that one will go. I've picked Clemson to win it for the past 3 years and look how that turned out. I could see a scenario where Clemson loses to UGA and FSU and Stoudt doesn't look good, Stoudt and Watson split time against UNC, and Watson is named the starter before the NCSTATE game knowing there's a ton of W's in front of them leading up to SC. You still win at least 9 games AND you've got a talented and experienced QB coming back next year with 3 years of eligibility left. If Watson is healthy, don't be surprised if Dabo has a quick trigger early in the season.

The open competition at QB wasn't to motivate Stoudt, it was to motivate Kelly and perhaps to a lesser degree Watson. Had Dabo named Stoudt the starter after the Orange Bowl, Kelly would've been on the next bus home.

So, beating up on the likes of WV, Fla Atlantic & Southern Miss is going to work wonders to prepare Bama's Coker for UF's defense, but Stoudt doing the same against Wake, Syracuse, SCST and El Cid last year did nothing to help him get ready for UGA's depleted secondary? But anyway, that's not my point. My point is, plenty of CFB teams go into seasons with green QB every year. Some work out, some don't. Does it raise questions? Yes, but it's not reason enough to say Clemson won't have a very good season. Fact is, Cole Stoudt, our WR's, our RB's or our defense aren't the biggest question we have. All of those are more than good enough for us to have a great season and perhaps be better than last year's team. The biggest question is our O-line. We have to run block better to establish a true running game with the talented backs we have and not Cole Stoudt. We also have to pass protect better to give Stoudt the time to make the reads and throws he is very capable of making. If we do those two things our offense will be much better than last year's by far. If we don't it's going to be a long year.

I agree, Clemson likely goes into the SC game at 9-2 and SC will likely be 8-3 with losses to Auburn & UF and one other to either UGA, Mizzu, A&M or UT. Although CU will start the season a disappointing 1-2 they'll get their confidence back with close home wins over UNC & Louisville plus easy wins over NCST & Cuse. Wake will be a cake walk on the road but GT & BC will be gut checks, but solid wins overall. By the time SC comes to Tiger Town Clemson's offense will be humming along at full speed and full of confidence. Their defense will be overall solid but still seeking to prove themselves worthy after another disappointing performance against FSU and a close, hard fought loss to UGA. SC will come in like the last few years feeling disappointed after another failure to capture the SEC East but still over-confident given their streak over Clemson. Clemson's defense will perform well again in stopping Mike Davis and SC will have the same game plan as 2012 when Dylan Thompson was able to sit back unchallenged in the pocket and pick apart the Tigers undisciplined secondary. The chickens will find a much different defense this time around however and the tigers pass rush will harass Thompson all night. Without Connor Shaw's legs to bail them out, the dirtpeckers go down in a close 28-24 loss.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

First of all, no one said Clemson wouldn't have a good season. I'm saying that they likely won't experience the same level of success as last year or at the very least that last year's team was better. As I've said before, they should sleep through all but 3, maybe 4 games this year. But they're not going to be 12-0 and the best Clemson team ever like the original yahoo said above.

WV, FAU, and SM are not going to pose a challenge to Alabama as a team but they are all D1 defenses game-planning against Coker as the Alabama QB. It's not mop-up duty against SCST and the Citadel. Clemson and Alabama are in the same boat in that neither QB has been a starter, taken a meaningful snap, or had a defense prepare for them. Coker will be THE GUY at QB for 3 weeks before he sees a team that can pose a reasonable challenge. Stoudt has to go to Athens and Tallahassee in 2 of his first 3 starts. He has to be excellent from his 1st snap. Coker can stink and they're still 3-0 so he has the freedom to make mistakes. The truth is that Alabama has the most talent in the country and the best coach in the country but they won't be any higher than 4th or 5th to start the season because of their QB situation. So it's not as if no one is taking the questions at QB into account. If Alabama started the season with games @LSU and @Auburn, I'd say the same thing about them as I am about Clemson. But Alabama doesn't play either until November.

South Carolina may be 8-3 going into the Clemson game but they could also be 10-1. They'll lose @Auburn, no doubt. But their toughest games are at home. And they return almost everyone including nearly their entire o-line 2-deep. UGA will be tough as usual. Mizzou won't be as good as last year but still good. A&M's defense is AWFUL and thanks to Joeckel transferring, A&M's QB will likely be a true freshman playing his 1st college game in Columbia. And I can't see UT winning in Columbia after ruining SC's division chances last year. I'm not sure why you think Florida will win. This could be the year that gets Muschamp fired. They've woefully underachieved with Muschamp as coach. You'll be hard-pressed to find a coach anywhere who has done so little with so much talent. Injuries hit them extremely hard last year but losing to GA Southern is inexcusable. I see Clemson and South Carolina both entering their final game 9-2 with both teams losing to UGA and the other losses to FSU and Auburn. CFBMatrix sees it the same way with Dabo finally getting a win over Spurrier. I'm predicting Clemson wins b/c they're at home so there's the kiss of death for ya.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

First of all, no one said Clemson wouldn't have a good season. I'm saying that they likely won't experience the same level of success as last year or at the very least that last year's team was better. As I've said before, they should sleep through all but 3, maybe 4 games this year. But they're not going to be 12-0 and the best Clemson team ever like the original yahoo said above.

WV, FAU, and SM are not going to pose a challenge to Alabama as a team but they are all D1 defenses game-planning against Coker as the Alabama QB. It's not mop-up duty against SCST and the Citadel. Clemson and Alabama are in the same boat in that neither QB has been a starter, taken a meaningful snap, or had a defense prepare for them. Coker will be THE GUY at QB for 3 weeks before he sees a team that can pose a reasonable challenge. Stoudt has to go to Athens and Tallahassee in 2 of his first 3 starts. He has to be excellent from his 1st snap. Coker can stink and they're still 3-0 so he has the freedom to make mistakes. The truth is that Alabama has the most talent in the country and the best coach in the country but they won't be any higher than 4th or 5th to start the season because of their QB situation. So it's not as if no one is taking the questions at QB into account. If Alabama started the season with games @LSU and @Auburn, I'd say the same thing about them as I am about Clemson. But Alabama doesn't play either until November.

South Carolina may be 8-3 going into the Clemson game but they could also be 10-1. They'll lose @Auburn, no doubt. But their toughest games are at home. And they return almost everyone including nearly their entire o-line 2-deep. UGA will be tough as usual. Mizzou won't be as good as last year but still good. A&M's defense is AWFUL and thanks to Joeckel transferring, A&M's QB will likely be a true freshman playing his 1st college game in Columbia. And I can't see UT winning in Columbia after ruining SC's division chances last year. I'm not sure why you think Florida will win. This could be the year that gets Muschamp fired. They've woefully underachieved with Muschamp as coach. You'll be hard-pressed to find a coach anywhere who has done so little with so much talent. Injuries hit them extremely hard last year but losing to GA Southern is inexcusable. I see Clemson and South Carolina both entering their final game 9-2 with both teams losing to UGA and the other losses to FSU and Auburn. CFBMatrix sees it the same way with Dabo finally getting a win over Spurrier. I'm predicting Clemson wins b/c they're at home so there's the kiss of death for ya.

I can agree that Bama has a different situation with their young QB than Clemson, but theirs is just as precarious as us at this point, if not more given the fact that Coker has yet to participate in a practice and Stoudt has been in the system for three full years. I totally disagree howevert that Stoudt has to play "excellent" from his first snap. Stoudt simply has to play within his abilities, take what is given to him by UGA's defense and not make stupid mistakes that could lose the game. Establising a running game with our line and RB's will be critical. A good example of Stoudt not needing to play a perfect game for us to have a chance to win was our 2002 game against the Dawgs in Athens. That game was a very similar situation. UGA was ranked in the top 10 and we weren't even ranked. It was the very first game of the season and Willie Simmons was a RS Jr starting his first game as heir to Woody Dantzler and he had previously played only in mop-up duty. He played a mediocre game that night, missed several key reads and missed a wideopen WR in the endzone for a sure score. We also dropped key passes, turned the ball over three times on fumbles, gave up a kick return for a TD, missed a short FG and play horribly on special teams in general. With all that, we still nearly won the game and lost by a score of only 31-28. If Stoudt plays only a "good" game and our defense lives up to half the hype their getting we have a very good chance of beating the dawgs...trust me. Will we? Chances are 50/50.

Why do I think UF will beat SC? 1) The game is in the swamp..SC has only won once there in 20+ years. The last time they played there in 2012 they lost 44-11. 2) Even though UF was decimated with injuries last year and played with a QB that could barely throw a foward pass across the line of scrimmage the gators very nearly beat them 19-14----in Columbia. 3) UFs defense is still going to be very good this year and many if not all of the key players on offense that were injured last year are back healthy. 4) Many of the key players from SCs defense are not back this year. The players replacing them are either very inexperienced or just no where near to the level of athlete of their predecessor. Heck, even their predecessors had a hard time stopping UF offense last year.

As for SC losing to UGA, A&M, Mizzu or UT. Yes, SC "should" beat them all, but even though SC has improved the last few years, it's still SC & they almost always lose a game that they shouldn't. '09 it was ARK & Uconn, '10 it was UK, 2011 it was AUB, '12 was an exception, '13 iit was UT. Given this history it's not a question of if, but who will it be in '14? Chances are it will be one (at least) of the four I mentioned. UGA most likely, followed by Mizzu, UT and A&M. Heck, it could be ECU---SC has a history of struggling against them. For some reason though I like A&M, Just because it's the first game of the season and SC typically starts out sluggish.

Clemorange writes:

I agree, all cole needs to do is come out and play his game. His specialty is taking what the defense gives. Which will set up nicely for the run especially with the stable of backs we have. Just keep rotating backs so they never know who will actually get the run. I think because we are replacing our QB, rb and wr actually help us in Athens because they won't know who to cover. We will be a completely new team. They can't key on a particular play maker or route cause we don't have the go-to yet. It sets us up to be mysterious and unpredictable. The only play that you can predict this year is not seeing the QB run so often on 3 and short, we have more options for that scenario now.

TigerFan95 writes:

Yep, I think folks misunderstand us when we say we have the potential to be better on offense this year. And I can understand why when we lose players like Sammy, Tahj, Bryant & McDowell. Sure, we're not going to have the ESPN highlight type plays we've had the last few years, but I think we'll be a more consistent, multi-faceted offense that moves the ball down the field 5, 10, 15 yards at a time by spreading the ball around to a diverse and large group of skill players. Although no one player will have eye popping stats at the end of the year, you're going to see a lot of different players getting touches and carries down our entire line-up. If we do that and maintain our pace of offense it's going to decimate opposing defenses. In the end, our offense may be a bit more boring to watch, but I think the results on the scoreboard are more important.

CstandsforCowtown writes:

Cole still has a lot to prove. Hasn't had to throw a third and long when the game is on the line in a hostile environment. Has only played against D-2 teams or garbage time against ACC teams. The high percentage stat from last year came against SC State. If he's not the answer, Watson needs to put on serious weight at 6'4, 185 pounds.

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