Swinney happy to let 'legitimate' QB competition play out over time

'You know when you know, and after four days, I have no idea'

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4), Clemson quarterback Chad Kelly (11) and Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt (18) run a passing drill during the first day of Spring practice on Wednesday.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4), Clemson quarterback Chad Kelly (11) and Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt (18) run a passing drill during the first day of Spring practice on Wednesday.

A week into spring practice, Dabo Swinney is no closer to naming a starting quarterback than when the Tigers first started.

But he's elated to report that the so-called 'battle' between senior Cole Stoudt, redshirt sophomore Chad Kelly and first-semester freshman Deshaun Watson is more than hype.

"It's a legitimate competition - wide open," said Swinney following the fourth of Clemson's 15 practice sessions Monday night. "As I've said before, we're blessed. We've got unique talent at that position.

"We're just let them compete and go through the process."

Swinney said the process will involve a little bit of everything.

"You put them in all kinds of different situations and you grade everything," Swinney said. "At some point you make a decision. When that is - end of spring, middle of spring, fall camp, third game - I don't know.

"You know when you know, and after four days, I have no idea. Consistency at that position is critical. They're all battling hard. It's fun to come to work every day."

While Swinney and his staff can measure elements like completion percentage, proper reads, and execution of the offense, leadership is a little more difficult to assess.

"Tajh Boyd was a great leader - a leader of this team," Swinney said. "A lot of his leadership came through his performance, and obviously these guys are not quite there yet. Each of them is different. They all want to be the guy, and they're doing everything they can to provide leadership.

"Part of that is body language - how do you respond when a guy drops the ball, how do you manage that? When you get coached hard, what's your response? Everybody's watching them to see how they react. You evaluate leadership in a lot of ways.

"Cole is a very respected leader among his peers, and it's the same thing with Chad. He does everything to the nth degree. That's his DNA, and it showed in the way he came back from his injury last year. Deshaun has been a leader all his life, and now he's walking into a situation where nobody knows a lot about him."

Swinney said that Watson hasn't skipped a beat in establishing himself in the thick of the competition.

"It's been interesting to see a young guy like that jump right into the mix with some grown men - guys who've been around here a long time," Swinney said. "He's gotten better and better, every day.

"They all have great qualities that good leaders have."

Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc

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Comments » 5

lhaselden writes:

I am jacked to see them all play April 12th!

kellytown writes:

Tajh was a great leader. However instead of throwing the ball away he managed to throw it to the defense he had happy feet and got frustrated in clutch situations. I will say this Cole has waited his turn and he has paid his dues. Let Cole play He is a senior and he knows the offense very well. If things don't work out then so be it.

lhaselden writes:

Nobody gets a turn, you earn your turn and not by longevity. I think Cole will win the job, but best player starts. As I think Dabo said, the QB that gives us the best chance to win against UGa starts.

clemvol writes:

I believe you need to have a Quarterback that does not lose the game for you. No need for a superstar just a steady hand that makes no mistakes. I also believe that Coach Swinney does not have an eye for a future NFL Quarterback just like, well..........Steve Slurrier doesn't. They both have something in common.

TigerNE writes:

in response to clemvol:

I believe you need to have a Quarterback that does not lose the game for you. No need for a superstar just a steady hand that makes no mistakes. I also believe that Coach Swinney does not have an eye for a future NFL Quarterback just like, well..........Steve Slurrier doesn't. They both have something in common.

Not sure how having an eye for a future NFL QB matters a whit at the college level. Many star NFL QBs were not so productive in college and many who made team/league records in college fizzled in the NFL. It almost doesn't matter whether someone is good enough for the NFL.

I think Swinney and Morris have proven they have a good eye for good college QBs. We do have a very strong trio right now. Maybe the best three in a long time.

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