CLEMSON - Chances were one man would outplay the other by a standard margin, or maybe they'd be on fairly equal footing, and the perception of Clemson's 2014 quarterback battle was it had many more chapters to write.
Aug. 30 at Georgia
Sept. 6 vs. SC State
Sept. 20 at Florida State
Sept. 27 vs. North Carolina
Oct. 4 vs. N.C. State
Oct. 11 vs. Louisville
Oct. 18 at Boston College
Oct. 25 vs. Syracuse
Nov. 6 at Wake Forest
Nov. 15 at Georgia Tech
Nov. 22 vs. Georgia State
Nov. 29 vs. South Carolina
But that's why they play the game - even when the game doesn't count in the record books.
Cole Stoudt, the primary backup and heir apparent to Tajh Boyd, has spent the spring battling Chad Kelly, last year's No. 3 on the depth chart, and true freshman Deshaun Watson.
With Watson sidelined for Saturday's spring game with a fractured collarbone, the day was billed as Stoudt vs. Kelly with a record estimated crowd of 33,000 observant critics in the bleachers at Memorial Stadium.
Stoudt was sturdy, guiding his offense to three touchdown drives (two capped by Stoudt throws) in the White squad's emphatic 24-5 victory over the Orange team.
Those were three more scoring drives than led by Kelly, who had a nightmarish day that ended early.
"Cole Stoudt had the better day, was the better leader, was more poised, handled the situation that was in front of him better," head coach Dabo Swinney said. "Everybody can see that today."
Kelly finished the first quarter with a flurry (a 32-yard lob to Daniel Rodriguez and a 14-yard dart to Demarre Kitt), but followed with an ill-advised forced throw into double coverage, getting intercepted on the goal line by Adrian Baker.
On his next possession, Kelly again challenged two defenders, and Garry Peters picked him off. Later in the half, the Orange squad faced a 4th-and-3 in White territory, play-caller Jeff Scott opted to punt, and Kelly was irate.
He let the coaches hear it at halftime. The coaches' response was to bench Kelly for the entire second half, which he spent fuming on the sideline - even sniping into the fourth quarter at nearby coaches.
"You're not going to have guys crossing a line with the coaches just because they're frustrated with whatever," Swinney said. "He got frustrated and reacted the way your leader can't react. It's just that simple."
Kelly's final statline was 10-for-18 for 113 yards and two interceptions; while the quarterbacks couldn't be tackled, thus stunting his scrambling ability, his lasting impression was the pouting as much as the picks.
"Chad Kelly is an awfully talented young man. Made a couple impulse decisions today that were kind of out of character for him," Swinney said.
"The biggest thing is he got frustrated. Maturity, leadership, that's a huge part of that position. Those are two things he's got to continue to work on. It's a lot more than just the skills."
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris approached Swinney at halftime about shutting down Kelly for the afternoon. He was unaware of Kelly's behavior after that decision.
"There's no pleading to nothing. The pleading was done at halftime," Morris said. "I don't know what all was going on at that point - I was back and forth across the field."
"This doesn't need to overshadow the entire spring, because (Kelly) has had a good spring. We've had a great battle, and it's just unfortunate it came to this. But it is what it is."
Conversely, Stoudt went 15-for-23 for 158 yards, including touchdown passes of 28 and 16 yards to rising sophomores Mike Williams and Jordan Leggett, who joined Stoudt on the second unit in practices last year and are competing themselves for starting jobs.
"Throughout spring, I've really improved myself as a player, and as a teammate and leader," Stoudt said. "I'm happy with my situation. I had a good spring, and I'm kind of excited with how fall's going to turn out."
"(Stoudt) has been very consistent the entire spring," Morris said. "He's been that steady Eddie type of guy, never too high, never too low. So it was good to see that with him today."
Even though the quarterbacks were wearing no-contact purple jerseys, Kelly absorbed two first-half hits from linebackers: Chris Register on a scramble and Ben Boulware after delivering a deep pass.
Kelly wasn't made available to reporters afterward.
"I don't know what happened on the other sideline or anything," Stoudt said, "but we're all a team, so we're always going to be supportive."
Sacks only constituted touching the quarterback with the ball, but defensive end Tavaris Barnes shined with five "sacks" on the stat sheet for the White team, which got interceptions by Adrian Baker and Garry Peters.
Converted wide receiver T.J. Green, now a safety, and cornerback Ryan Carter each made eight tackles for Orange.
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