With over four months until their opening game against the Georgia Bulldogs, the Clemson Tigers hosted their annual Orange & White Spring Game in front of an estimated 33,000 Clemson faithful. And with the Tigers touching Howard’s Rock and running down The Hill, the atmosphere of a Clemson football game was certainly created.
And this year, the White team emerged victorious over the Orange team with a score of 24-5. Senior Cole Stoudt paved the way for the White team, completing 15-23 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore Chad Kelly completed 10-18 passes for 113 yards and two interceptions. Stoudt and Kelly are both in the midst of competing for the starting position after the departure of record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd.
While collegiate spring games are generally seen as glorified scrimmages, it allows fans the opportunity to see what the team has coming back and where key position battles lie.
Obviously, the quarterback battle was the most anticipated aspect of this spring, having to replace such a dynamic playmaker like Tajh Boyd. Stoudt has been labeled as the more proficient pocket passer, while Kelly has been deemed as a more natural running threat. That being said, based on his performance with 33,000 on hand, Stoudt gave a very solid impression, outperforming Kelly in more than passing. Despite some stalled drives, Stoudt kept his composure, coming back to throw two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Kelly’s frustrations to move the ball on offense boiled over into his own composure, which led to his benching in the second half of the spring game. While Stoudt certainly showed more separation, the coaches are likely to drag this out into the fall, but for now, fans are more comfortable handing the reins to Stoudt.
As for the rest of the offense, expect Wayne Gallman’s number to be called, or at least it should be. The redshirt freshman showed both size and speed in the game, leading the Orange team with 62 rushing yards on nine carries. We’ve been hearing good things about Gallman since last spring, and he, along with Zac Brooks and CJ Davidson, look to factor into Chad Morris’s gameplan on a more focused running game.
At receiver, with Charone Peake (ACL) and Germone Hopper (suspended) out of commission, only Adam Humphries, Mike Williams and Daniel Rodriguez were returners with some form of game experience. The rest consisted of freshman in Demare Kitt, Artavis Scott and Kyrin Priester, who are all long on playmaking potential, but short on experience and the playbook. Humphries showed his usual consistent self, and Williams showed that, with the departure of Martvais Bryant, this could be a breakout year for the sophomore receiver.
The defense showed very little to be concerned with, for the moment. The defensive line looked as strong as it ever has, anchored by All-American defensive end Vic Beasley. In the back seven, Mackensie Alexander looked as good as physically advertised, and the corners certainly looked better in year two under defensive backs coach Mike Reed. The linebackers were also active, as Ben Boulware and Dorian O’Daniel were among the Tigers’ leaders in tackles with nine and seven, respectively. Look for the defense to carry this team through 2014, especially as the offense finds its stride with its younger corps of receivers and in the running game.
While the different positional battles, particularly at quarterback, aren’t over by any means, this spring game showed that there is certainly more separation than we have certainly been given the past several weeks.