Ready at the drop of a hat

CLEMSON - All it takes is a bone jarring tackle or a sticky handed defender to remove the helmet from Tajh Boyd's head.

Yes, that rule is back for its second season in college football. Any player who loses his helmet is required to sit out the very next play.

That, along with the unthinkable, keeps Cole Stoudt on his toes.

"I just always do what my dad has always told me. Just be ready for anything, prepare like you're going to be the starter, because you never know what's going to happen," Stoudt said. "Hopefully, nothing bad does happen…You just have to be ready. You don't want to go in and not be ready."

Father does know best. Cliff Stoudt was the backup quarterback for Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1977-1982.

Stoudt's youngest son has been a serviceable backup for Boyd over the last two seasons. Cole has completed 39 of 60 passes for 327 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in 171 snaps over 14 games.

This year he wants to be better, but only in mop up time when Clemson has a comfortable lead.

However, he will be ready, just in case.

"I'm just working on the little things that I need to improve on, footwork, chemistry with the receivers, just trying to get more immersed with the offense and be ready whenever I need to be ready," Stoudt said.

Jordan Leggett will probably miss the opener, but he'll be back soon there after.

Expanded role

When spring practice got underway in March, Darrell Smith didn't anticipate his role being much different than what it had been in the past.

Sam Cooper was slated to be the guy to replace Brandon Ford and Jordan Leggett was already beginning to make a name for himself as the next Clemson tight end.

An ACL injury to Cooper in the spring game and a knee injury by Leggett during preseason camp changed Smith's plans.

"My role increased a lot because of the injuries we had a tight end to Sam and Jordan, but I'm just coming to work everyday with a positive attitude, trying to get better, working on what I've got to do to get better," Smith said.

Normally an all teams performer during special teams, Smith said he won't be on the kickoff and kickoff return teams this fall. And his role on offense won't be limited to that of a lead blocker.

"I'm getting more comfortable. I've been catching a lot of passes, spring and fall, so I've gotten a lot more comfortable running routes and with my position," he said.

Getting defensive

Thursday afternoon's practice is the first of the month that isn't considered to be part of preseason camp. The following notes are from players on the defensive side of the ball, and they hit on a few different topics.

-When it comes to running the ball, Georgia is comparable to the last team Clemson played -- LSU. Both programs employ a philosophy that ESPN loves to love.

Spencer Shuey definitely loves to matchup with that bruising, challenge-your-manhood style of play.

"They have some power offenses and try to knock you off the ball," he said. "It all starts up front. It's going to be a physical game and we're excited for this type of play."

In that regard, LSU and Georgia are somewhat comparable on offense.

"LSU, I think, had a little bigger fullback, so they did a lot more leads, but Georgia's definitely capable of doing the same thing," Shuey said. "They run a lot of similar power plays and counters."

-Before he was sidelined with a back injury, Tyshon Dye helped give the Clemson defense a close look at what it will be like trying to tackle Georgia running back Todd Gurley.

DeShawn Williams thinks Dye compares favorably to the Dawgs' sophomore star.

"What I've been impressed with [Dye] is his body as a freshman. The thing that he does like Gurley [is] he keeps his feet moving with contact," Williams said.

Dan Brooks has been stressing a technique that helps tackle big-bodied running backs. He calls it gator tackling.

"You just grab his legs and twist, get him down any way that's possible," Williams said.

-Dye wasn't the only young running back to turn heads during Clemson's camp. Zac Brooks won the No. 2 job behind Roderick McDowell -- count Victor Beasley among those that were impressed by the sophomore from Arkansas.

"He's a hard runner. He never stops. He just keeps going. He's improved a lot from last year," Beasley said.

-Garry Peters thinks the Clemson defense has made improvements from this time last season.

"I feel like, last year, we're way ahead from where we were last year, as far as learning the system, learning the techniques," he said. "Then, with the acquisition of coach [Mike] Reed, I feel like we're going to be a whole lot better this year." Top Stories