Quick Pre-Camp Assessment--The Quarterbacks

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04: Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates with the CLemson mascot after he threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins #2 in the first quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

As the 2012 season rapidly approaches, we'll do all we can to remind you how Clemson and many of its players performed a year ago, what we are looking for this season, and where we realistically believe functional groups/players will end up. We'll begin this exercise with a quick quarterback discussion.

Here is how we graded The Chad and the Clemson signal callers last Spring. To recap, Tajh showed considerable improvement from what we saw out of him in '10. His mechanics improved over his Tire Bowl effort. Boyd under-impressed in Spring '11 but showed great leadership and discipline last summer to advance his game. The combination of the new offense, better receivers, maturity, and improvement with the little things put Boyd on highlight reels and kept sportscasters talking about him for a good part of the year. Boyd was backed up by true freshman Cole Stoudt. Stoudt, who grew up in a football household, was able to turn heads during Spring drills and, to some extent, seemed to almost push Boyd going into fall camp. Stoudt provided critical snaps in his backup role, particularly when Tajh was injured in the Boston College contest. While his overall numbers weren't overly impressive, Stoudt did all expected of him especially when you consider his lack of collegiate experience coupled with being placed in a relatively tough situation to gain experience.

Here is how the passing statistics broke down last fall:

NAME

CMP

ATT

YDS

CMP%

YDS/A

TD

INT

RAT

Tajh Boyd

298

499

3828

59.7%

7.67

33

12

141.2

Cole Stoudt

12

21

115

57.1%

5.48

0

0

103.1

Totals

310

520

3943

59.6%

7.58

33

12

138.6

Clemson comes into this season again with some questions at the QB spot. Tajh has the starting role on lockdown, but injuries present many questions behind the junior. Stoudt did a fine job last season but had a high school injury flare up over the summer after a lackluster spring. Tony McNeal, who redshirted last fall after falling behind Stoudt, tore his ACL on the last play of the spring game and will not be available for the '12 campaign. Clemson signed four star QB Chad Kelly but you really would like to have all your quarterbacks redshirt if possible.

The depth question and subsequent roster adjustments revolve around Cole's knee injury. The swelling is a legitimate concern-so much so that we've heard rumors that surgery may be required if the flare ups do not subside. Such a response would likely require the staff to pull Kelly's redshirt. While Kelly may have the all the physical tools to play at this level, we've all heard about his tomfoolery prior beginning his first collegiate football season. A redshirt would allow him to use this year to acclimate himself to college life and mature before being tossed into the fire that is collegiate football. This is entirely necessary for the QB position.

Tajh is a different story. He really emerged as a leader last season while improving the football centered items of his game. We want to see Tajh keep improving his mechanics. Boyd has a tendency of throwing off his front foot and can get lazy with the shoulder/arm position. All of these items are fixable and, after seeing the improvement Morris/Boyd made from '10 to '11, I am excited to see Tajh's fundamental throwing motion, particularly as the game progresses. The other item of concern was Boyd's tendency to lock onto a receiver and a habit of forcing the football. Sammy was Boyd's security blanket and Boyd sometimes ignored his other receivers in his quest to get Watkins touches. There is nothing wrong with making sure your playmaker gets his touches but Clemson has a slew of receiving talent...definitely enough to relieve pressure from just one player.

We've discussed the offensive line woes ad nauseum and certainly such items will be a concern for the entire offense. Fortunately, Clemson has been successful up front providing quarterback protection and we hope that this year's OL can gel so that Tajh doesn't get killed. As we've also discussed, proper protection calls from the backs (and specifically the quarterback) are critical for pass protection. Tajh made some poor calls last season. Time spent on film study and better understanding gameplay improves these presnap calls. Boyd has to make the proper calls all season to (A) have time and (B) not get killed. We've been heaping praise on The Chad and again believe that his ability to coach and Boyd's commitment to improving will show more improvement in '12. The other item that should be obvious is Boyd's weight. He definitely added some pounds the past couple years. Hes reportedly at 223 right now, a loss of about 10lbs. Hopefully the establishment of the training table will mitigate this concern in '12, as it will be up and running.

I expect to see more improvement from this position. Boyd proved he'll put in the effort and Morris assuredly knows how to coach a signal caller. Tajh proved he could do it through the air and on the ground a season ago and we expect his decision making and pure football instinct to give the Tigers a chance for another really big offensive season. If he/his playmakers can get things clicking and Morris can get the excessive number of snaps he desires out of this offense, look for more records to get broken during the second year of Hurry Up No Huddle excitement in Tigertown.

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