Cole Stoudt

Position: Quarterback

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-4, 210

Hometown: Dublin, Ohio

Last year: Tajh Boyd's backup, but was promising in mop-up duty: 47-for-59 (79.7 percent), 415 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT, plus a couple of running scores

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To help get you through college football's slow days of early July -- before conference media days launch the preseason festivities -- we've counted down the 10 most important South Carolina Gamecocks and 10 most important Clemson Tigers for 2014. One Gamecock and one Tiger every day, so you can spend part of your summer studying the players who will make a difference for your team come autumn.

CLEMSON'S NO. 1 - COLE STOUDT, SENIOR, QUARTERBACK

"Just drive the bus."

For all of Tajh Boyd's heroics in his 40 starts at Clemson, that message was all offensive coordinator Chad Morris ever really tried to express to the humble, excitable leader of Clemson's offense.

For all of Clemson's perceived transition in life after Boyd, doesn't it seem, on some level, the ideal situation for a smart, savvy, and even safe senior quarterback to do exactly what Morris says?

Just drive the bus?

It's much too early to label Cole Stoudt a game manager. That's not fair, before we see him play at the college level with a lead or deficit less than 12. (He never has.) Seeing as this defense could the best in the Dabo Swinney era, and Morris is trusted to put Stoudt in position to succeed, couldn't something along the lines of a 64 completion percentage clip, with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions be expected? That'd be enough to get the job done.

Or maybe there's another side of Stoudt we haven't seen. Stoudt has said privately - and it's been said about him - he prefers to read through his route progressions, which Boyd was dogged for never doing.

Maybe Mike Williams, Adam Humphries, Charone Peake, Germone Hopper, and Fill In Rookie Receiver Here are sturdy enough in space, maybe Jordan Leggett, Stanton Seckinger and Sam Cooper make plays in the red zone, maybe Zac Brooks, D.J. Howard, C.J. Davidson and Wayne Gallman hold up their end in the running game while catching some passes out of the backfield as well, for this offense to churn along like nothing ever changed.

Or maybe Deshaun Watson's starting in Tallahassee Sept. 20. Hey, you never know.

Stoudt carries himself better than that, though. He's not content to just say he earned four letters at Clemson, that he recorded the second-highest pass efficiency in school history (where he sits now, behind Boyd.)

He is cerebral enough to learn Morris' complicated offense, and perhaps master it. He's also smart enough to know S.C. State and Florida State are two different things.

Stoudt's most extensive pressure action came his freshman year against Boston College, when Boyd injured his hip and Stoudt completed 6-of-10 passes for 37 yards, helping Clemson pull away for a 36-14 victory.

Worth noting: Stoudt has passed in the Orange Bowl, he has rushed in the ACC Championship, he has scored in an all-top-5 matchup. He has appeared in games against Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Auburn, Florida State and Georgia Tech.

But never South Carolina.

-Aaron Brenner

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