CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson's focus at the start of fall camp is again on its quarterbacks, though for a different reason than the previous two seasons.
Then it was seeing how far record-breaking passer Tajh Boyd could lead the Tigers. Now, it's about who will follow Boyd behind center and to see if he can keep Clemson's high-energy offense on the move.
The Tigers hit the field Friday for the start of fall camp as the Thin Lizzy tune "The Boys Are Back In Town" blared in the team's practice facility. Not all the guys are back, though, leaving questions among Clemson fans whether the potent offense will take a few steps back.
Senior Cole Stoudt won the job in the spring after spending the past three seasons as Boyd's backup. He will be pressured by freshman Deshaun Watson, one of the country's top prep prospects who accounted for Georgia state marks with 17,134 yards and 218 touchdowns.
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney says Stoudt has done well in the offense and earned the chance to start the opener at Georgia on Aug. 30. But Stoudt must keep progressing this fall or risk getting jumped.
"What if he goes out there and stinks it up the next two weeks?" Swinney said before practice. "We're not going to reward a guy for that."
Swinney is confident, though, that won't happen.
Stoudt was tutored early on by his father, former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, and has shown a tall, strong presence in the pocket when given the chance. That wasn't often the past three years behind the durable Boyd, who finished his career as Clemson's career leader in passing yards, completions and touchdowns among dozens of records.
One longevity mark Boyd doesn't hold belongs to Stoudt — interception avoidance. Stoudt has thrown just one interception in 119 career attempts.
Stoudt has also shown the ability to hang in there in difficult situations, most notably when he led the Tigers to a late touchdown in a 51-14 loss to Florida State when the Seminoles' backups were running free and easy trying to prevent another score.
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