Clemson not resting on past success

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2014 at 3:31 pm •  Published: January 16, 2014
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is already locked into fixing things that went wrong during the Tigers' 11-2 season.

Swinney doesn't want returnees satisfied after a third straight season of double-digit victories and the school's first victory in a BCS bowl with their 40-35 win over Ohio State at the Orange Bowl earlier this month.

The countdown clock on video screens at Clemson's football complex is winding down to the next season's opener at Georgia — and Swinney wouldn't have it any other way.

"We had a team meeting this week to get these guys back refocused on the new year," Swinney said. "It's what you do. You start over every year."

Swinney won't have as many offensive pieces to start over with as he did a year ago. Record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins won't return — Boyd who exhausted his eligibility and Watkins who chose to give up his final college season for the NFL draft.

The two were critical components why the Tigers averaged over 500 yards and 40 points a game the past two seasons.

Most questions Swinney will face are about who'll replace Boyd, not just as starting quarterback but as the face of Clemson football.

"Right away," Swinney said with a grin, "right away you've got to go there."

Cole Stoudt, son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, has been Boyd's backup the past three seasons and done well when pressed into service. Boyd was remarkably durable during his time, so Stoudt's role was usually to mop up after games had gotten out of hand.

Still, Stoudt's completed nearly 80 percent of his throws this season for 415 yards and five touchdowns.

Behind Stoudt is another player with an NFL pedigree in Chad Kelly, the nephew of Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly. Also in the mix is true freshman DeShaun Watson, one of the country's top high school prospects who enrolled at Clemson earlier this month.

Swinney has said often that Watson, at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, is the prototype quarterback for Clemson's high-speed offense.

"At the end of the day, we are going to have a guy ready to go when it comes time to play, but we've got a long way to go before we figure all of that out," he said.

Swinney would also like to elevate Clemson's running attack. The Tigers had their third straight season with a 1,000-yard rusher when senior Rod McDowell passed that mark in the Orange Bowl win. But the Tigers lacked the breakaway back they'd had in past years with C.J. Spiller and Andre Ellington.



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