Swinney says Bryant-Lawrence competition is a totally different situation than Stoudt-Watson from 2014
What happened in 2014 between Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson has nothing to do with what is going on in Clemson’s current quarterback battle.
When the three-time defending ACC Champions begin fall camp next Friday, the fans, the media and most of the college football world will be wondering how head coach Dabo Swinney will decide between incumbent Kelly Bryant and freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence.
“That is a totally different situation,” Swinney said.
The difference is Kelly Bryant. Unlike Stoudt, Bryant has started 14 games and led Clemson to an ACC Championship and the College Football Playoff. He is one of the team leaders, not just on offense, but on the entire team. Swinney just can’t yank him from the field.
Stoudt never started a game prior to his senior year so the situation between him and Watson was a different dynamic than the competition Bryant and Lawrence are in.
Swinney said because of that he would not change anything about how he handled that particular season. He said going into the season opener at Georgia the competition was very close between Stoudt and Watson.
Watson played a couple of series in the game and even led the Tigers on a scoring drive. The next week at home against SC State, both quarterbacks took the same amount of snaps and then at Florida State the next week, Watson separated himself and took the job.
“He was ready,” Swinney said.
The Clemson coach said trying to apply what they learned from the Stoudt-Watson situation to Bryant-Lawrence is hard to do. He said they are different people, different quarterbacks and are in a different situation.
“At the end of the day, the main thing you learn is that guys have to earn it, especially at that position,” Swinney said. “You have to have a great system in place as far as accountability and how you grade and giving guys the opportunity to compete and practice every single day. It will play itself out.
“The gap was wider between Cole and Deshaun coming out of spring that year.”
Watson was 180 pounds and was coming off a broken collarbone injury, while Stoudt was settled.
“Cole did not regress at all. It’s just Deshaun … that is just what happened,” Swinney said. “All of sudden he comes back and by the end of camp, I’m like ‘Okay! Man, this kid has a chance to be pretty special here.’
“Our schedule was really challenging that year … It just kind of worked itself. Cole did not regress, I don’t think. He handled himself well after he lost the job because he still competed to be the guy. Now he was not ready in the Georgia Tech that year when Deshaun got hurt, but he was ready when we played Oklahoma and he was the MVP of the game. So, he was a good player for us and he did a good job in his role here.”
Swinney said this year’s quarterback battle between Bryant and Lawrence is a closer competition because the gap between the two is closer coming out of the spring.
“It is exciting. It really is because no one works harder than Kelly Bryant,” Swinney said. “He is just a winner. He is just a winner. That is all I can tell you.”
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