Coming into the season, the quarterback position appeared to be deep and talented. Charlie Whitehurst was the clear cut starter entering his senior season. Will Proctor was coming on strong under new offensive coordinator Rob Spence. The only question was how would Whitehurst respond after throw 17 interceptions during his junior season.
Whitehurst started the year strong. He did not throw an interception in the first two games. He led a dramatic comeback on the road against Maryland in the final minutes of the game. In hindsight, 51-yard touchdown pass from Whitehurst to Curtis Baham was one of the biggest plays of the season. Whitehurst attempted to lead Clemson back once again against Miami.
Whitehurst would lead the Tigers to overtime, but he would throw his first interception of the season in the third overtime against Miami. The following week of the season Whitehurst’s season would take a turn for the worse.
Against Boston College, Whitehurst began having problems with his shoulder that would plague him for the rest of the season. After a loss at Wake Forest, Whitehurst had the bye week to rest his shoulder. The rest would pay off.
Whitehurst was in command as the Tigers broke the Thursday night curse. He torched NC State for 246 yards. Following the Georgia Tech, the problems with Whitehurst’s shoulder were evident. Whitehurst was missing valuable practice time, and he was not executing in the games.
Whitehurst would yield to Proctor against Duke. Proctor made his first start of his career in place of Whitehurst. Proctor had already shown he was capable of leading the Tigers. The first game of the season Proctor led the game winning drive against Texas A&M after Whitehurst was knocked out with a concussion. Proctor performed well against Duke going 13 of 21 for 201 yards.
Whitehurst responded well to the week off. In his home finale, he led a dominating attack on the Florida State defense. In the final game of the regular season, Whitehurst became the first Clemson quarterback to go 4-0 against in-state rival South Carolina. Whitehurst had a nine yard run to seal the victory for the Tigers.
The stellar four year career of Whitehurst came to a close at the same spot it almost ended too early. Whitehurst avenged the 55-15 loss to Texas Tech in Orlando with a 19-10 victory over Colorado to close out his career.
Whitehurst finished the year with 2,483 yards passing. His completion percentage improved to 67.4%. He leaves Clemson holding nearly 40 school records. A four year starter is never easy to replace, but the performance of Proctor has the Clemson faithful optimistic.
Proctor is a better fit in Spence’s offense. Proctor does not have the arm strength of Whitehurst, but he is a much bigger threat to run. He will benefit from having a year to learn the system, and he could be set up to flourish in 2006.
Back ups Cullen Harper and Tribble Reese will go into the spring battling for the #2 spot behind Proctor. Harper did lead a touchdown in his only performance of the season against Duke. Reese remain on the scout team this year.
Overall, it was a solid year for the Clemson quarterbacks. Whitehurst had a solid senior campaign considering the injury. Proctor showed he can win games for this team and carry the load as the starter in 2006.
Final Grade: B