Morris says Stoudt ahead in race for backup QB

by - Senior Writer -

AUDIO: Chad Morris press conference audio from Tuesday

CLEMSON – Chad Morris admits that he is a “technique freak.”

Clemson’s new offensive coordinator told reporters on Tuesday in the WestZone that the biggest thing he has worked on this spring with his new quarterbacks is their footwork, and it’s something he works on during practice and for several minutes following practice.

“If there’s one thing I want all of them to work on over the summer, it’s their footwork,” Morris said in the WestZone. “Footwork- every one of them. Footwork. I am a technique freak.”

Morris met with the media to discuss the quarterbacks - Tajh Boyd Tajh Boyd
6-1, 230
Hampton, VA
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and true freshmen and Cole Stoudt and Tony McNeal – and said that Stoudt has the early edge as Boyd’s backup.

“I think Cole through 12 practices - they’ve pretty much had the about the same number of reps during the spring and seeing who has the advantage over the other- has the advantage,” Morris said. “I think that Cole is a little bit more confident in his ability, not that Tony’s not. I’m really proud of Tony, but I think as far as settling in, being able to manage the game and make plays with his feet, Cole is a step ahead. It’s nothing bad about Tony. If you look comparatively, Cole is a little bit ahead.”

Stoudt’s father is Cliff Stoudt, who played quarterback in the National Football League, and Morris said that living with a former quarterback seems to have given Stoudt an edge.

“Cole seems like he is a little more seasoned and little more of a veteran,” he said. “Coming from the background he has with his dad playing in the league, you can tell he’s probably been around the game of football his entire life. I still think Tony is going to be a good quarterback for us but at this point and time Cole is ahead.”

Both freshmen gave up their final semester of high school in order to enroll at Clemson early and be a part of spring practice, and Morris said he is asking a lot of them.

“I’m pretty hard on them right now,” he said. “I love them to death and they will tell you that, but I’m going to be hard on them right now. I had high expectations for them and they have upheld those expectations. You should be a senior in high school, but you made that decision and now we are going to ask you - with 12 practices under your belt, I don’t want you to be a true freshman - you need to be a redshirt freshman. We are going to hold them accountable and they have done a good job.”

He was asked to compare the two, and he said that both have their positives and negatives.

“Tony is a guy that is really level. He’s never too high and he’s never too low,” Morris said. “He doesn’t get rattled too much and that’s what I like about him. Cole has a lot of the same characteristics, but Cole’s personality is that when something good happens he gets really excited and when he doesn’t do something right, he gets really down on himself. That’s just his competitiveness. I would like to get that out of him.

“Cole has a little bit stronger of an arm than Tony. Tony has a quicker release than Cole. One of the thing that I’ve got to really work on and put in their evaluation from Saturday’s scrimmage is that Cole is so wide in his drop that it slows his release down so we have shorten the steps in his drop so he can get the ball out quicker. Each one of them brings something a little bit different to the table. I think Cole runs a little bit better than Tony on some of our zone read, but who’s managing game a little bit better- Cole is probably a step ahead.”

Morris also made it a point to mention that Boyd – as he should be – is far and away better than the freshmen.

“I don’t think you can compare arm strength. Tajh’s arm strength is so much better than those two young men and it should be,” he said. “He’s been here and he’s been in a quality weight program. As far as understanding and grasping the offense, I would say that Tajh is a little bit ahead of these guys, but Cole is doing a good job. Tajh wants to run the football. When you get into your zone resets, Tajh wants to run the football. He wants to pull it down and get the options off of it where Cole on the other hand-like last Saturday I had to tell him, ‘Pull it. Don’t be giving it, you pull it’. Cole is a little apprehensive on whether or not he wants to pull it or run it. That just comes with being young and you will see those guys improve.”

Boyd has been a quick study in the new offense, and Morris said that his starter just needs to work on the little things in order to get better.

“I think Tajh has done a really good job picking up the offense,” he said. “With him knowing when to slow this part of the offense down and slow down. It’s just simple things like catching a shotgun snap. Tajh hasn’t ever played in a shotgun offense. The little things are taken for granted like ‘Why can’t you catch a ball out of the air?’ Those are the things that we are working on. Catching the ball in the wrong spot totally throws off the timing of the running backs and the meshing points. Without a doubt though, he has done a very good job picking up the offense.”

Part of the grading process on all of the quarterbacks has been looking at the completion percentage of each, and Boyd has a slight edge on Stoudt at this point of the spring.

“Cole is extremely accurate. Tony is pretty accurate,” he said. “We chart every pass that is thrown, including every completion and every dropped ball. If you look at that, Tajh is about a 58% completion guy. I would like for him to be about 65%- 65 to 68%. Cole is about a 55-57% guy. Again that’s including the drops and we’ve had a few drops, but we haven’t had enough drops to bump them up to 68%. Those are some things that we have to really work on. We are going to get those percentages up. Tony is about 55%. Tajh has thrown about double the number of passes that Tony has. Cole has thrown a little more than Tony. It’s all about getting completions.”

In regards to the footwork, Morris was asked if he was shocked at Boyd’s footwork – or lack thereof – when he arrived on campus.

“I don’t know if that’s a trick question or not,” he laughed. “I don’t know anything about their previous quarterbacks coach or their high school coach. I don’t know if they place an emphasis on footwork or not. Some of the great programs and quarterbacks coaches around the country don’t place a great emphasis on footwork, I do. I’m a technique freak. I feel like you throw with your feet and your eyes before your arm. But, that’s just me and that’s what has made me and other quarterbacks that I’ve coached successful. Has it been a challenge on all of these three guys on footwork? Absolutely. Everyday it’s a process- that’s why I can hardly talk right now. But, that’s ok because they know what to do and what drill work we do. We spend 15 to 20 minutes a day on nothing but their feet. You have to get better at that.”

If Boyd were to go down, Morris said that one of the freshmen would definitely play over holdovers Donnie McElveen and Taylor Ogle Taylor Ogle
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Gatlinburg, TN
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, and Morris said that in an ideal situation one of the two would redshirt while the other plays.

“I don’t really want to play Cole or Tony in the first two games unless we are ahead,” he said. “I would rather not unless we are in a situation that we can. I think one of them is going to have to redshirt. I would prefer it were both of them because it would be best for them. I really don’t think you are going to be able to go through the whole season with the intent of red shirting both of them- one of them is going to have to play and one is going to redshirt.”

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