GREENWOOD, S.C. — Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says this year’s quarterback situation between Kelly Bryant, Trevor Lawrence, Hunter Johnson and Chase Brice is no different than the one he had in 2014 between Cole Stoudt, Chad Kelly and Deshaun Watson.
Prior to Monday’s IPTAY Prowl & Growl event at the James Medford Family Event Center in Greenwood, S.C., Swinney said the process is still the same. They have to perform.
“You grade everything,” the football coach said. “Back then, Chad Kelly was there. Deshaun did well, but then he got hurt. He broke his collarbone. Cole was kind of the last man standing there. He came out good.”
Kelly was dismissed from the team shortly after the spring game for a violation of team rules. Watson then made his move on Stoudt in fall camp and closed the gap.
“The next step was to go the games,” he said. “It just kind of played itself out on the field.”
Stoudt started the 2014 season as the Tigers opened the year at Georgia. Watson came in later in the game and delivered a 38-yard strike to Charone Peake, similar to a throw he now makes in the NFL with the Houston Texans.
The following week, Watson showed even more promise against South Carolina State and then he won the job over Stoudt when he came in for the senior at Florida State.
The following week, he threw six touchdown passes against North Carolina and the rest is history.
Swinney says the process will be the same this fall. He is going to let the players decide who the starter will be by how they perform, even if it goes into the regualar season.
“You grade everything. You evaluate every drill and tape because you have to have a process. You can’t just anoint people,” he said. “You have a team concept and when you do not make people earn that, there is a breakdown.”
The process is no different, according to Swinney, than when he started as the head coach in 2009.
Questions surrounding the quarterback position started after Bryant struggled in the spring game and Lawrence and Johnson shined. All the fans and the media have wanted to talk about since the spring game on April 14 is the quarterback competition.
Monday night was no different. Swinney fielded three quarterback questions from the media and two more from the crowd of more than 650 people.
“That is just where we are,” Swinney said. “The process now is no different than in 2009 when I started. Every position is the same. Quarterback is no different. The only difference is we do not tackle them in practice.
“You have somebody who is a first-team (guy) and sometimes there is a big gap and sometimes it’s close. If it is close then you take it to the games and then you let it work itself out.”