CLEMSON - No quarterback controversy to speak of, nothing to see here, move along.
That's the message Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney reiterated on Wednesday's ACC coaches teleconference.
"We'll continue to have (freshman Deshaun Watson) in the mix. But (senior) Cole Stoudt is our definite starter," Swinney said. "There's no question of that at all."
During a first half of Saturday's 45-21 loss at Georgia in which the Tigers tallied 276 first-half yards, Watson played just one series, taking the Tigers 78 yards in six plays in 1:42, culminating with a 30-yard touchdown spiral to Charone Peake.
Stoudt led the other seven series, which resulted in two touchdowns, a missed field goal, three punts and an interception. Stoudt's seven series went 198 yards in 48 plays, and his inaugural starting statline was 15-for-28 for 130 yards and one pick. He did have an 18-yard scramble, and picked up a 4th-and-1 plunge inside the five-yard-line.
"Cole really played well. He had about two or three plays he'd like to have back, but I really, really like how he led our team, and the decisions he made," Swinney said. "Very encouraged."
In his three years as Tajh Boyd's backup, Stoudt never once entered a game with the score closer than a 12-point margin.
"But we don't have anybody with any experience behind him," Swinney said, "and we're building for this year and for our future, making sure Deshaun get some opportunities as well."
Watson checked in with a 14-7 deficit, and his touchdown tied the game.
Generally speaking, Swinney sounded even more positive for conference media than he did at his Tuesday press conference with local reporters.
"First of all, we're good enough to win in any environment against any team out there. I really believe that," Swinney said. "I was encouraged by a lot of things that I saw. The score in the end wasn't indicative of the game, we certainly didn't deserve to win, but openers are really tough, especially when you play tough people at their place.
"The mistakes we made, there's nothing that I came away from the game saying, 'Oh boy, we got major problems.' Bottom line is, we got beat by a really good team at their place in a tough opening situation. But that's OK."
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