Expectations for quarterback Cole Stoudt were high entering his senior season.
Having waited his turn behind record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd, he appeared to be poised for an enormous year. His father, Cliff, played for the Pittsburgh Steelers so the bloodlines were thought to be there. He had been in the Chad Morris offense for three years so the experience was there. He was a mid-level three-star prospect coming out of high school so there was a base of talent to work as well. <
And in limited action before 2014, he actually looked pretty good - including completing 19-of-20 passes in a win against S.C. State a year ago.
But somewhere along the way, it all went wrong.
At least that's what most fans believe. They watch the Georgia Tech game and see the pick-sixes and wonder what is going on? They see the low number of touchdowns and high number of interceptions and ask, why is he still in the game?
Well, Clemson's co-offensive coordinators, Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott, have a theory on what happened this year and it goes like this: the games in which Stoudt went into the week as the starter, he actually performed pretty well.
The games in which he came off the bench, not so much.
"Cole has done really well so far," Scott noted after Wednesday's practice. "You look at the games in which he's a starter and he's gone through the week as the starter, he's played really well. Whenever he wasn't the guy as the starter and he came off the bench, I don't know if he prepared as much during the week as he should have, so."
The numbers back that statement up... kind of.
Stoudt was good, not great, in wins at Boston College, against Syracuse and others. He completed a third-down and 10 pass deep in Clemson territory with the Tigers trailing in the fourth quarter in the win in Chestnut Hill. It was a rifle of a pass that was on the money and one of the biggest plays of the season.
He obviously struggled in the road loss in Atlanta- but he didn't prepare as the starter that week. Deshaun Watson had recovered from a broken finger and was set to make his return to the starting lineup.
Elliott says he's been reminding Cole of his successes, not the bad outings.
"We are," he said. "We are just pointing out things he's done in the past. He's had success in the past. It's his ship and he's prepared well and he's gone out and performed. So we've been telling him, 'This is your game to leave your legacy.' So we are putting the plan in place to be successful. Everyone has been rallying around him. He's stepping up as a leader.
Scott also believes Stoudt's confidence is still good as well.
"We have full confidence in what we need to do. What better way to go out than to have a big win over Oklahoma. I think the confidence thing can get blown out of proportion. He knows he's the starter and that's going to help," he said.
Helping matters is the fact Stoudt will have as much time to prepare as the starter since the season opener at Georgia. In that game, he directed the Tigers to 21 first-half points before the offense bogged down in the third and fourth quarters.
Elliott says he's expecting a strong performance from his starting quarterback against the Sooners.
"We have all the confidence in the world in him," he added. "It's his time to shine and his time to leave his legacy."
Stoudt performing well
CUTigers.com Top Stories
RECRUITING RADARIn our weekly Recruiting Radar, CUTigers Recruiting Analyst Gary McDaniel updates you on the latest news and intel on the Clemson recruiting front!
CUTigers.comMonday at 5:53 PM
Austin Bryant Will Miss Louisville GameClemson fans were hoping starting DE Austin Bryant would make his 2016 debut against Louisville on Saturday, but Dabo announced Wednesday evening that Bryant will be held another…
CUTigers.comYesterday at 5:46 PM
Visiting Recruit ListDeath Valley will play host to a star-studded list of recruits on Saturday, as #3 Clemson takes on #3 Louisville.
CUTigers.comTuesday at 5:24 PM