College Football teams across the country are gearing up for the kickoff of the season. The spring games will often give coaches a good first look at the teams that they are going to put on the field for the upcoming season. This first look will also provide a glance at positional battles that will be ongoing leading up to the first game of the season.
For the Clemson Tigers, one of the biggest battles on the field is for one of the biggest positions in the game; the quarterback. The Tigers lost a great quarterback in Tajh Boyd who has turned his focus to playing on Sundays in the National Football League. While he will be missed, the Tigers have to focus on the future and who will be playing under center this season. The current starter is Cole Stoudt, butIn pursuit is the very talented Deshaun Watson.
This quarterback battle gives Clemson plenty of options. One day during the spring, the coaching staff decided it would let the quarterbacks go live, submitting them to contact, in order to help define the hierarchy. Well, that soon resulted in a broken collarbone for Watson, the prized freshman. Days later, Chad Kelly was dismissed for conduct detrimental to the team. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris told reporters twice in a relatively short meeting that Kelly was “very high-strung.” He said that wasn’t a bad thing — but that it could become a bad thing. And it did, not long after that.
Those close to the program indicated that issues with Kelly had festered for a while, and coaches sensed there wasn’t much to gain by continuing to hold out hope that Kelly could harness those emotions and gain the trust and respect of his teammates. SO now the Tigers have to adjust on the fly and make some changes. Stoudt is the player with experience, someone who completed 80 percent of his passes last season in limited action. Watson is the future, as Morris and coach Dabo Swinney have let everyone know. For now it is a matter of learning and healing from injuries.
The young Watson is expected to be fine by involuntary summer workouts in May, time in which he can develop rapport with receivers in 7-on-7 work. It’s no slight to Stoudt to call him a caretaker of the job. It’s more of a compliment to Watson, whom Morris said he has recruited since ninth grade. Being the first ones to pursue Watson helped Clemson land him and if he can have a return to form, he can lead this team to a successful season.
The Tigers will have a very good team this season, but they need to have a strong leader at quarterback if they want to win.
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