By Heath Bradley.
In this installment of the post spring breakdowns of the Tigers we will focus on the quarterbacks. The battle for the backup quarterback will go into August camp.
Depth Chart- 1st Team: Tajh Boyd, 2nd Team: Cole Stoudt
What We Know- Tajh Boyd had an amazing, record setting first year as the starting quarterback of the Clemson Tigers. He led the Tigers to an 8 and 0 start, an ACC Championship game victory for the first time in school history, and led the Tigers back to the Orange Bowl for the first time since 1981. Boyd, a redshirt junior from Hampton, Virginia, threw for 3,828 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2011 while also rushing for 218 yards and five touchdowns. Boyd, was named First-team All-ACC, an Honorable Mention All-American, and a semifinalist for the Maxwell and the Davey O’Brien Awards. He was named the MVP of the ACC Championship Game as well as the Manning Award National Quarterback of the Week four times during the 2011 season. Boyd’s 38 total touchdowns were an ACC record. Boyd also led the ACC in total yards per game in 2011. Cole Stoudt performed admirably as a true freshman backup in many key situations for the Tigers. The biggest of these situations came when Boyd went down with a hip injury in the Boston College game. Stoudt entered the game and went 6-10 for 37 yards in 28 snaps in the game and preserved a 36-14 victory that moved the Tigers to 6 and 0 on the season. Stoudt also saw action in five other games for the Tigers, finishing the season 12-21 passing for 115 yards in 71 snaps. Stoudt directed the Tigers to a touchdown in his only drive in the Discover Orange Bowl.
What We Expect- Tajh Boyd worked hard in the winter and throughout spring practice to get in better shape for the 2012 season. One thing that has been evident since the completion of the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2010 is that Tajh Boyd is the vocal leader of this team. As the leader he is choosing to lead by example. Boyd has worked hard to keep his weight down while getting stronger and faster so that he can become a more integral part of the Clemson running game in 2012. He also spent his entire spring break working out with other collegiate quarterbacks in California. While the gap between him and backup Cole Stoudt is comfortable, Boyd had the focus and the drive to come to work everyday in the spring to become a better quarterback. With Chad Morris constantly pushing for more out of Boyd it will be exciting to see where he can take the Clemson offense in year two as a starter. The backup quarterback position for the Tigers however, is not as clear. With Cole Stoudt, the only other quarterback on the roster with meaningful game experience returning, one would believe he is in the drivers seat. However, redshirt freshman Morgan Roberts had a very good spring according to the coaches and put pressure on Stoudt to be the number two-signal caller for the Tigers. His improvement over the spring hopefully will not only make him, but also Stoudt, better in the long run. Chad Kelly, a freshman from Buffalo, New York, also hopes to compete for playing time at quarterback for the Tigers. Kelly, a dynamic athlete, and nephew of former NFL star Jim Kelly, hopes to be able to make an immediate impact for the Tigers. The backup quarterback battle will be very heated during fall camp, but expect to see Cole Stoudt as the Tigers backup.