It’s not going to be easy for any quarterback replacing a legend like Tajh Boyd. If anyone can handle it, though, it’s Cole Stoudt. He is a more-than-qualified replacement with three years of experience as Boyd’s backup.
The senior from Dublin, Ohio, looked comfortable running Chad Morris’ offense in the spring game. He finished 15-of-23 passing for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
His maturity and leadership at the position will go a long way this fall in an offense that needs a playmaker to step up.
What to Expect
Stoudt may not be as flashy as Boyd was when it comes to throwing the deep ball, but his accuracy is off the charts. Last season against S.C. State, he was 19-of-20 passing for three touchdowns and no interceptions.
In his three-year career, he has completed 72.3 percent of his passes and has a 145.1 pass efficiency rating. He has only thrown one interception in 22 career games.
Stoudt isn’t going to be a contender for the Heisman or constantly steal the media’s attention, but he’s the guy Clemson fans should want behind center.
With playmakers at wide receiver and tight end, expect Stoudt to throw in the range of 3,400 yards and 27-32 touchdowns. It wouldn’t totally surprise me to see him over that 32-touchdown mark, but he likely won’t be taking as many downfield shots as Boyd did.
Expect the senior to find a consistent groove after the Florida State game. This isn’t to say he won’t perform well in the first three contests, but the five subsequent games will allow him to really get into a rhythm.
After the showdown with the ‘Noles, four of the next five games are at home against teams that Clemson will be favored against.
What Not to Expect
Tiger fans shouldn’t expect Stoudt to be the guy who never makes mistakes. He has shown great leadership and poise throughout his time at Clemson, but he has a tough road ahead of him.
Two of his first three games will come on the road against likely top-10 teams, with his first career start against the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens. While he gets S.C. State in Week 2 to earn more game experience and an off week in Week 3, the next game will be his biggest test of the year.
Stoudt will have a tough task going into Tallahassee with only two starts under his belt to take on the defending champion Florida State Seminoles.
He did gain some experience against the Seminoles last season, going 5-of-8 passing for 47 yards in a game that had already seen its end. Any experience is a good thing, but the situation will be totally different inside Doak Campbell Stadium this fall.
How many touchdowns will Cole Stoudt throw in 2014?
Also, don’t expect Stoudt to be the typical first-year starter. If Deshaun Watson was to be the starter come Week 1, experience would definitely be an issue. Stoudt is a guy who has seen the field in 22 career games and was mentored for three years by one of the best quarterbacks in ACC history.
All in all, realistic expectations for the senior should be to lead the offense in an efficient manner, keeping his turnovers low. While the Tigers may not rank as high as last year’s No. 10 mark in total offense, it certainly shouldn’t take much of a hit with Stoudt replacing Boyd.