Cole Stoudt Saves the Best for Last

by - Senior Writer -
Cole Stoudt leaves the field with the MVP trophy held high.
Cole Stoudt leaves the field with the MVP trophy held high.

ORLANDO, FL – Cole Stoudt Cole Stoudt
Sr. Quarterback
#18 6-4, 231
Dublin, OH

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sat at the postgame interview table, absentmindedly touching small cut underneath his left eye but grinning from ear.

Why? Because he saved his best for last?

Stoudt turned in the best performance of his career, winning the Russell Athletic Bowl Most Valuable Player award by completing 26-of-36 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns in the final game of his Clemson career in Clemson's 40-6 drubbing of Oklahoma.

Stoudt’s night got off to a big start on the Tigers’ first play, completing a short pass to Artavis ScottArtavis Scott
Fr. Wide Receiver
#3 5-11, 190
Oldsmar, FL

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that Scott turned into a 65-yard touchdown. The quick pass and the quick success set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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said that Stoudt was the story of the game.

“The story of the game offensively was Cole Stoudt. We had great preparation getting ready for this game,” Swinney said. “It didn't start out the way he wanted it to this year, but buddy it's all about how you finish. Cole Stoudt was 6-2 as a starter for us this year, and played his best game of his career in his last game. We knew our only chance to win this game was that he was going to have to play his tail off and we were going to have to make plays outside. This is a very tough defense to run against, and we did just enough.

“But Cole Stoudt was awesome. He made plays with his legs and made great decisions with the football. He made good checks and checked us into some plays. They brought a house blitz and he checks us into a touchdown to G-Hop. Cole Stoudt was awesome and nobody deserves it more than ole No. 18. He has hung in there and shown class even when things didn't go the right way and he continued to believe in himself. I couldn't be more proud.”

Stoudt was asked if he saw the game as redemption for the abuse that has been heaped on his shoulders in the absence of starting quarterback Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
Fr. Quarterback
#4 6-3, 204
Gainesville, GA

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, and he said no.

“I wouldn't say it was redemption. I just knew that this was my last game here and knew that I had to prepare to be my best,” Stoudt said. “I wanted to do it for the guys around me, because that's what really mattered, the people I have played with over the years. In my mind, I knew I wanted to be the best I could be for this team and go out and have some fun and just enjoy the last game with everyone and that's what we did. We had our best bowl practice that I've been around. And it was just a ton of fun. We all had a blast.”

Stoudt became just the third Clemson quarterback to throw for 300 yards in a bowl game. The others are Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
Quarterback (2009 - 2013)
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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(twice) and Brandon Streeter (1999 vs. Mississippi State). Streeter was brought on board three weeks ago when former offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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left to go to SMU, and Swinney thought it fitting that Streeter has been in Stoudt’s ear during bowl prep.

Stoudt receives MVP trophy
“There have only been three quarterbacks ever to throw for 300 yards in a Clemson bowl, and you talk sometimes about how things are destined,” Swinney said. “But one of them is Tajh Boyd, one of them is Cole Stoudt and the other is a funky old quarterback named Brandon Streeter, who we just hired to coach our quarterbacks about three weeks ago. So it's pretty ironic that he joined that group with Streeter and Tajh Boyd. That's pretty neat.”

Stoudt said that making the completion and touchdown on that first play set the tone.

“It was a huge momentum booster for everyone, getting rolling like that and being up 7-0 on the first play,” Stoudt said. “It all comes down to who makes the big plays in a game, and we had the most in the game. It was a huge momentum booster and it just kind of piled on from there and we really didn't hit the brakes from there.”

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