Clemson preps freshman QB for Terps
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris patted Cole Stoudt on the cheek as he spoke about the true freshman's first significant action as quarterback for the eighth-ranked Tigers.
''Not even shaving yet,'' Morris quipped.
Stoudt could have to grow up fast for the undefeated Tigers (6-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). Morris said Stoudt, the son of longtime NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, would likely get most of the practice work with starters as Tajh Boyd recovers from a strained left hip injury. Boyd was sidelined for most of the second half of last Saturday's 36-14 victory over Boston College.
Boyd was walking around Monday and didn't ''need a wheelchair,'' Morris said. Still, the Tigers won't push Boyd too much early on in the week.
''He told me he would play, and I believe him,'' Morris said.
If Boyd can't, Morris and the Tigers are comfortable with Stoudt.
The staff got a look at Stoudt's poise in his nearly two quarters in charge of the ACC's second-leading offense. Stoudt was 6 of 10 for 37 yards and was at the controls as Clemson put the game away with a field goal and a 36-yard touchdown by Andre Ellington after Boyd's injury.
Not that it wasn't a frightening time for the Tigers and the 78,000 at Death Valley after Boyd got up from a tackle by Eagles defensive end Max Holloway and then slumped back to the turf.
Morris ran on the field and asked the sophomore quarterback if his knee was hurt. ''No, coach, it's my hip,'' Boyd answered. That's when Morris turned his attention to Stoudt, who faced a third-and-goal from the BC 3. Morris encouraged Stoudt to take some deep breaths, relax and have fun. ''Oh, and by the way, we're throwing the ball,'' Morris told him.
Stoudt's first pass was incomplete to DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone, setting up the fourth of Chandler Catanzaro's five field goals.
Stoudt said he calmed down after that and liked what he did out there.
''You feel like you've got other guys to pick up the team, not just you,'' Stoudt said. ''That takes off some of the nerves.''
And Morris said that will help the 18-year-old Stoudt the next time he gets in.
''I was pleased to see the way Cole responded and the way the guys responded around him as well,'' the first-year coordinator said.
No matter which quarterback plays at Maryland (2-3, 1-1), he'll face an improving Terps defense that held ACC scoring leader Georgia Tech to 21 points last week in a loss to the Yellow Jackets.
Terps coach Randy Edsell said he hoped his team would take a step forward from the close loss, learning that a strong week of practice puts you in position to win. ''That's what we want to do,'' he said.
That could be difficult against Clemson, seeking its first 7-0 start since 2000. Freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins had seven catches for 152 yards, his third 100-yard game this season against BC. Tailback Andre Ellington rushed for 117 yards, surpassing the century mark for the first time in four games.
Watkins was named the ACC's rookie of the week while Catanzaro earned the league's specialist honors for his five field goal performance.
At first, Watkins thought Boyd's injury would turn out worse than it did.
''I thought, 'Oh, man. This is bad.' Because he actually got up and then sat back down,'' Watkins said. ''But I've got faith in Cole.''
Stoudt understands the worries from everyone about Boyd's health given his breakout performance so far. Boyd has thrown 15 touchdowns to two interceptions and leads the ACC in total offense and passing yards.
Stoudt, from Dublin, Ohio, set passing and touchdown records at Dublin Coffman High that had been held by ex-Notre Dame star Brady Quinn. Stoudt enrolled at Clemson in January so he could go through spring practice with the Tigers and then impressed coaches with how hard he pushed Boyd for playing time.
Stoudt's father was finished with the NFL before Cole was born so his memories of Cliff's time in the pros are limited to tapes and old stories.
''I have seen a couple of his videos when he played with an afro,'' Cole Stoudt said. ''Wow.''
The Clemson signal-caller said his father has always served as an additional coach, sharing the knowledge of his time in the pros with Pittsburgh, the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals, Miami and Dallas from 1977-91. Cliff Stoudt also spent two seasons with Birmingham Stallions in the defunct USFL.
''It's awesome to have my dad knowing the game so well he can tell me about offense and also be my dad,'' Stoudt said.