By Will Vandervort.
Today we continue our countdown on who are Clemson’s Most Important Players for 2014.
Don’t get this confused by who are the best. Some of these guys on the list might be the best at their respected positions, but this list concentrates on which players are the most important to the Tigers’ overall success this coming fall.
This list takes into account Clemson’s strengths and weaknesses, depth at certain positions and the importance at each position. Today we exam the No. 2 player on this list.
2. Cole Stoudt, 6-4, 210, Sr. – Stoudt has been the backup for the last three seasons behind Tajh Boyd. He is the son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt. He has played in 22 games in his Clemson career. He has thrown for 742 yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception. He has completed 72.3 percent of his career passes, including 79.7 percent last year.
Why is he vital? Stoudt is the most experienced quarterback on the team. He understands offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ offense better than anyone. He is a very accurate passer and is very efficient at running the offense. His teammates really respect him. He has never once complained about playing behind Boyd the last three seasons. He is a team player.
Quotable: “This is a young man that has been groomed to be a quarterback his whole life. That is in his DNA. He gets it. He has matured greatly over his three years. He has been very unselfish. He is such a team guy and he could have been starting in a lot of other places, yet he stayed here and was a great backup to Tajh Boyd.” –Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney
Best case: Stoudt begins the season with a great performance at Georgia as he throws for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Tigers to a win over the Bulldogs. That propels him to an All-ACC season and lifts Clemson at worse to a return trip to the Orange Bowl or best case a spot in the first College Football Playoff.
Worst Case: Stoudt struggles in losses to Georgia and Florida State and by mid-season is replaced by freshman Deshaun Watson. The Tigers lose two or three games and finish the year at best in the Orange Bowl.
Final word: Stoudt is a different quarterback than Boyd so he will be asked to do different things. He also has to break in a new receiving corps with guys like Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant now in the NFL. But Stoudt has already shown great leadership by staying at Clemson though he knew he only had one year to start when Boyd graduated. That has earned him the respect of the locker room and is the leader this year’s football team needs. If the Tigers do struggle early in the season, and he isn’t the reason for the struggle, then he is the guy that will help get the season turned around by season’s end.