It's hard to believe that the last time the Tigers were in this situation was the departure of Kyle Parker after the 2010 season. Some fans find the quarterback search full of excitement and possibilities, where I tend to find it more comparable to an ice cream headache. The good news for Tiger fans (and my stomach) is that Clemson has capable signal callers on the roster, capable of filling in a pair of giant shoes left by departing Senior Tajh Boyd. Let's take a look at the 2014 Clemson Quarterbacks and what we can expect.
Cole Stoudt - Senior 6'4" 210 Ibs
Stoudt will start for the Tigers in 2014 and, let's face it; he is being put into an impossible position. Nobody wants to follow the greatest quarterback in school history because they will immediately be compared to him. But let's look at this from a positive perspective. Stoudt has had the opportunity to learn the offense for three years from Chad Morris and the QB who ran it to perfection. You have seen Stoudt embrace the offense before as at times last year, the pace seemed to pick up with Stoudt under center.
This isn't the first time that we've seen Stoudt; he saw action in 8 games last year and threw 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions while completing an unbelievable 80% of his passes including a 19/20 record setting performance against South Carolina State. The common response was that it was in garbage time against 2nd stringers, but I didn't see any other backup put up those kind of numbers. I've heard from some people that they want Stoudt to fail to get a look at incoming freshman Deshaun Watson, but I don't expect that to happen. Stoudt won't take as many chances as Boyd did down field and as a result the offensive statistics won't be as dramatic, but he will act as a game manager and make the correct plays and limit the turnovers. Stoudt will be the starter, barring injury, for the entirety of the season.
Deshaun Watson - Freshman 6'2" 205 Ibs
Deshaun Watson is the highest rated quarterback to join the Tiger staff since Willy Korn back in 2007. While I give you all a minute to wash out the disastrous images that just popped into your head, let's take a look at Watson's high school accomplishments. Watson hails from Georgia's Gainesville High School where he was the Georgia Gatorade Player-of-the-Year. Watson set state records for total offensive yards, total touchdowns, passing touchdowns, passing yards and touchdowns and also rushed for 4,057 yards with 63 touchdowns during his career. Needless to say, in high school he did it all and many expect that to translate to the college level.
Watson came to Clemson expecting to play. You don't see many freshman enroll in January and go through camp just so they can redshirt or warm the bench. Watson is no exception, but he fractured his collarbone during a scrimmage in April and missed some time. Watson has fully recovered and coach Chad Morris has said that he will play in the Georgia game, but don't get too excited. There has been talk of a dual-quarterback system, but I doubt that fits into Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris' plans. What should we expect form Watson this year? Expect to see him in spot situations if the offensive line struggles to protect Stoudt and Clemson needs some mobility, but this is Stoudt's job, and I don't expect to see Watson receive any serious playing time.
David Olson - Graduate Student 6'2" 220 Ibs
Olson transfers into the Clemson program after graduating from Stanford after 4 years behind Andrew Luck and Kevin Hogan. Olson has quite a pedigree but don't expect to see him on the field this season as the third string. During his 4 years at Stanford, Olson only played in 1 game, last year against Washington State, and has never thrown a college pass. It is good to see Olson return home as he graduated from Irmo in 2009 and can bring an outside presence from a winning program to the team. Look for him to be a mentor to Freshman Deshaun Watson from the sidelines.
Stay tuned for more season previews on Shakin the Southland as we prepare for the season kickoff against the Bulldogs.