Always prepared

Always prepared

Football

Always prepared

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By Will Vandervort.

By Will Vandervort

After watching his son complete 19 of 20 passes and throw three touchdowns in Clemson’s win over S.C. State last week, Cliff Stoudt grabbed his son Cole and gave him a big hug.

“That was awesome,” the former Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback told his son. “I don’t have anything else to say except that was awesome.”

Cole Stoudt’s performance was awesome. In fact, it was a record. Stoudt’s completion percentage of .950 set a new single-game record at Clemson for a quarterback, breaking the record of Woodrow Dantzler’s .941 from his 16 of 17 afternoon against The Citadel in 2000.

“You always go back and pick out the things you don’t do right,” Clemson’s backup quarterback said earlier this week. “You have to go to practice and improve on the things that I noticed so I can make myself better and help out the team more.”

But don’t get Stoudt wrong, he isn’t beating himself up or anything because he had one incompletion.

“You don’t ever want to beat yourself up too much,” he joked. “It’s just the little things. There is nothing too big. I’m not being too hard on myself, it’s just I messed up so let’s get it right in practice.”

Stoudt said the thing he did the best last Saturday was get in a groove fast, while performing at a high level. He really had no choice at first. With the Tigers up 24-7 midway through the second quarter, starter Tajh Boyd took a shot to the gut, knocking the breath out of him and sending him to the sideline.

Stoudt entered the game and the offense did not miss a beat. The junior finished off the drive by completing all six passes he threw for 43 yards, including a three-yard touchdown pass to Charone Peak.

It’s the second time in his career Stoudt has come in for an injured Boyd, and immediately he led the offense to a touchdown. He did the same thing for the third-ranked Tigers in a win over Boston College in 2011.

“I’m happy how I handled the offense given the situation,” Stoudt said. “Tajh got the wind knocked out of him and I was already ready and that’s how I have been preparing. When I need to go in, I’m ready and I’m prepared.

“I always have to prepare that I’m going to be the guy. I have had situations where I have had to go in for Tajh like when he injured his hip in my freshman year against Boston College and I went in there and performed. This past game he got the wind knocked out of him and I had to go in.

“I remember against Florida State last year he was so tired and that he said he needed a breather for two plays. I think I’m capable of doing it. I have done it in the past and getting more experience like (SC State) gives me more confidence in going in and taking over the offense when I need to.”

Boyd reentered the game on the Tigers’ next drive and led Clemson to another touchdown as it took a 38-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. Stoudt came back at the start of the third quarter and led the Tigers to two more touchdowns, while throwing touchdown passes of 17 and 26 yards to Germone Hopper to close out the scoring in the 52-13 victory.

“Getting some playing time is always a good learning experience,” Stoudt said. “You just have to keep on improving every day and go from there. I’m happy with it. Getting that experience and more plays against other teams is always better.

“You get to see how you perform in certain situations then you take it out onto the practice fields and then into other games.”

So he will be ready when his number is called, Stoudt spent the summer learning how to run a little better. As Chad Morris’ offense has evolved at Clemson so too has the quarterback’s role as a duel threat player.

A good pocket passer, Stoudt understands he has to become a more mobile quarterback in order to make the offense more efficient when he is in there. Last year, Boyd rushed for more than 500 yards and this season, the Clemson starter already has three rushing touchdowns.

“This past year, I have been working on speed, quickness and agility,” Stoudt said. “Seeing Tajh handle the offense like that is really good, even though he is taking a beating, but it’s what we have to do in order to perform for our offense.

“Some defenses cannot handle what we do with our quarterbacks.”

And so far, when called upon, no one has been able to handle Stoudt.

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