Dabo has made the comment several times that the offensive struggles this year remind him of the 2010 team. But to me this season has felt eerily similar to 2014, and specifically the games when Cole Stoudt was the primary QB.
In 2014 I would say Stoudt can be evaluated as the primary QB in 7 regular season games. This includes the Louisville game when Deshaun left early, and I'm not including the Ga Tech game even though he had the most pass attempts in the game. That was such a complete disaster that I'm going leave it out. Stoudt had his struggles, but that was an anomaly even for him.
This season, DJ has obviously been the guy for all 6 games. It's a decent comparison between both schedules, both include games against UGA (obviously a better defense this year), an FCS game, and 2 conference road games.
QB Stats Per Game:
DJ - 16/29 162 Yards, .7/.5 TD/INT, 106.9 Efficency rating, 5.6 Y/A, 10 Carries for 31 Yards .3 TD
Stoudt - 22/35 217 Yards, .9/.9 TD/INT, 119.7 Efficency rating, 6.2 Y/A, 7 Carries for 8.6 Yards 0 TD
Rushing Stats Per Game:
2014 - 41-151-1.7 TD's, 3.5 YPC
2021 - 33-145-.8 TD's, 4.4 YPC
- '14 - T (Battle/Gore/Webster) OG (Beasley/Mac Lain/Davis/Crowder) C (Norton/Guillermo)
- '21 - T (McFadden/Parks) OG (Putnam/Bockhorst/Marcus/Tchio) C (Bockhorst/Rayburn)
- '14 - Gallman/Davidson/Choice/Howard/Dye
- '21 - Pace/Shipley/Mafah/Dixon
- '14 - Williams/SCott/Hopper/Humphries/Leggett
- '21 - Ngata/Ross/Allen/Collins/Williams
On the face of it, you would say Stoudt was the more effective thrower and DJ provides slightly more in the ground game. Stoudt was aided a fair amount by pop passes, like at Wake he is credited for a 68 yard touchdown to Artavis that traveled all of a foot in the air. DJ has also been able to limit his interceptions much better than Stoudt, he had a habit of staring down his 1st read and trying to force it in there. The running games are fairly similar. The '21 group is averaging almost a yard per carry more, but was absolutely non existent in Charlotte and the staff has been less committed to establishing the run which has limited the total yardage.
For the supporting casts, I would say RB is a wash, given that Gallman/Choice were Freshman at the time. The WR/TE group is a huge win for the '14 group. Artavis came right in as a Freshman ready, Mike was great as a Sophomore, and Humphries in the slot is definitely the type of target DJ doesn't have. On the OL front, I'll have to let others make that evaluation. I would imagine this group has more recruiting stars to their name, but seem to struggle more in the passing game.
Overall, I'm not sure if there's much to be taken from the comparison. This year's offense has produced less scoring and yardage than the unit in '14, but I think given the advantage in the receiving corps that would make some sense. I guess the main takeaway would be that:
1. The 2014 group looked vastly different with Deshaun on the field. The passing game was more dynamic, committed fewer turnovers, and the running game produced at a much higher rate. With no other major changes that I can remember to the personnel, Deshaun had the offense running like a fine tuned machine. We all know that this year's team is not only struggling at QB, but a great QB can drag an offense to higher levels and bad QB play can bring down a good supporting cast.
2. Why did/have Stoudt and DJ played so poorly? Stoudt's numbers in his first 3 seasons were excellent. A small sample size for sure, and he typically played lower level competition, but when he came in he played well. He was a Senior by 2014, knew the offense, and at the very least practiced well enough all summer to earn the starting job. Deshaun should've started week 1, but you have to imagine Cole had legitimately practiced at a level that made him seem capable. He didn't seem to handle the QB competition well, played timid, and just looked lost. But even after all of that, he played lights out in the bowl game (given a bad OU defense), making plays we hadn't seen all year. His demeanor seemed totally different, he played loose and had the game of his life. I remember at the time being very excited about Streeter as it was his 1st game on the sidelines I believe. Cole Stoudt was never going to be Deshaun but it still feels like his real ability level was higher than what we saw for the majority of 2014. And with DJ, it's been some of the same. He looked outstanding in 2020. He was calm, cool, collected, and lived up to his recruiting hype. But this year he seems totally different in attitude and execution. And other than poor OL play making him skittish there isn't much of a reason why.
That's a lot of words to maybe not say that much, other than that we have seen similar offensive struggles not too long ago, and the fix was to start a Heisman caliber QB and keep him healthy. And with Clemson's QB situation, the only way for that to happen now is for DJ to turn back into the guy we saw last year.
These opinions are not necessarily those of the Proprietors of Shakin' The Southland.