By Will Vandervort.
No one in college football threw the deep ball better than Tajh Boyd the last three seasons. It seemed as if every time you watched a Clemson game, Boyd was throwing and completing a bomb to either DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins or Martavis Bryant.
But it takes two to throw the deep ball. The guy running under it is just as important as the guy throwing it, and that is what has Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney concerned.
“Cole (Stoudt) throws a great ball,” Swinney said.
But who is going to catch it?
What Stoudt does not have is as Nuk Hopkins, Sammy Watkins or Martavis Bryant. All three of those guys will be catching passes on Sundays this fall, while Stoudt is left wondering who on the roster—old and new—he’ll be throwing deep passes to.
“We are going to get there,” the Clemson quarterback said. “A lot of the guys are stepping up. The freshmen are looking good, too. They are coming along. It’s the beginning of camp so they still have a lot of stuff to learn, but they have learned a lot this summer.”
Stoudt’s targets this year are savvy veterans Adam Humphries and Charone Peake, while Mike Williams also comes in with some experience after catching 20 passes last year for 316 yards.
“The bigger part of it is that we have so many new guys there and he is trying to get on the same page with those guys,” Swinney said. “We have been kind of spoiled with Martavis, Charone, Nuk, Sammy and those guys and right now we don’t have Charone for a few more days so we have a lot of young guys out there.”
Those young guys are Germone Hopper—a redshirt sophomore who caught 23 passes for 149 yards a season ago—Artavis Scott (freshman), Kyrin Priester (freshman), Demarre Kitt (freshman) and Trevion Thompson (freshman).
“It is coming along and they are getting there,” Stoudt said. “I know some of the freshmen will play this year and they are looking pretty good.”
But can they be the same deep threats Boyd was spoiled with the last three years, which helped him become the best deep-ball passer in college football?
“These guys have not been together very long so getting that timing down and Cole learning who is the athlete—because they are all different—that’s part of it,” Swinney said. “As far as the type of ball he has been throwing, he has been impressive.”
Now he just has to hope he can complete it.