Clemson Football: Over, Under Stat Projections for Cole Stoudt in 2014
Cole Stoudt has the unenviable task of replacing the greatest quarterback in school history. Tajh Boyd was not just the best QB in Clemson history, he was also one of the ACC's all-time greats.
In Boyd's four-year career—the last three seasons as the starter—he passed for 11,904 yards, 107 touchdowns and completed 64 percent of his passes. Boyd also rushed for 26 more touchdowns.
But football is about more than stats—the only numbers that ultimately matter are wins and losses. However, with offensive coordinator Chad Morris calling plays, Clemson's offense is one of the more quarterback-friendly units in the country. If Stoudt starts every game, he will put up big numbers.
The biggest question surrounding Stoudt is if he can hold off true freshman Deshaun Watson all season.
What's the over/under on Stoudt's numbers in the major passing categories? Here's a fun look, using Boyd's numbers from 2013 as the measuring stick, at how Stoudt projects this fall.
Passing yards: 3,851
Stoudt should easily top 3,000 yards passing in 2014. But can he get to 4,000?
Morris would like to feature the running game more next season as a way to take the pressure off his first-time starter. So expect the rushing numbers to improve while the overall yardage statistics take a step back.
This number could go higher if the Tigers get behind often. Don't expect that to happen. Clemson is too good of a team to be playing from behind.
Look for Stoudt to pass for around 3,500 yards.
Projections: Slightly under
Boyd relied heavily on Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant in 2013. Both are now gone. A plethora of talented but inexperienced weapons should emerge to give Stoudt plenty of options.
Tight end Jordan Leggett and wide receiver Mike Williams are impressive red-zone weapons. And Stoudt appears to have a good rapport with Leggett, as well as with senior Adam Humphries.
Stoudt may not go down the field as much as Boyd did—at least initially—limiting the big plays. Still, expect for him to top 30 touchdowns.
In his three years as the starter, Boyd threw at least 11 interceptions each season. Last season, when he was picked off 11 times, was his career low.
Stoudt, meanwhile, has only been intercepted once in his career. Keep in mind, he has attempted only 119 passes, but he has shown a penchant for taking care of the ball. Boyd was a risk-taker, which led to more big plays down the field.
Stoudt's biggest tests will come against Georgia and Florida State. Both games are in the first month of the season. If he is relatively turnover-free after those two performances, he should easily be under 10 interceptions for the season.
Ultimately, Stoudt will take fewer chances and allow his receivers to make plays for him after the catch. This should all help minimize his turnovers.
Completion percentage: 68.5 percent
For his career, Stoudt has completed 86 of 119 passes, which equates to about a 72 percent completion rate. Yes, the sample size is small, but it does give you an indication of how well Stoudt takes care of the ball.
Without Watkins and Bryant, look for the Tigers to lean more on the tight ends. Humphries and Germone Hopper, another smaller receiver, will look to get the ball in space and make plays.
Boyd was terrific in 2013. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes. It seems unreasonable that Stoudt could top that.
But he can.
Expect Stoudt, who has a terrific grasp of the offense, to complete right around 70 percent of his throws this fall.
Finally, the biggest stat of them all: wins.
Boyd was a winner. For his career, he won 32 games, including two big bowl triumphs over LSU and Ohio State in the past two years.
It won't be easy surpassing or even equaling 11 wins in 2014. The Tigers must replace several starters on offense and in the secondary.
However, led by a defensive line that goes three deep and can take over games, Clemson will be in every game. If the Tigers can win one of the two early season games against Georgia or FSU, they stand a good chance of competing for another spot in a BCS game.
No, the quarterback doesn't single-handedly win and lose games, but they do have the greatest impact on each individual game. A good quarterback can carry you, while a bad one can sink you. Stoudt's experience will help him and the Tigers have another successful season.