On Saturday, April 12, fans of the 2014 Orange Bowl Champion Clemson Tigers will get to see a preview of what the 2014 season holds for the team. It’s the annual Orange and White game in Clemson Memorial Stadium. The Clemson squad will be divided into two teams, and Tiger fanatics will get a chance to get their fix of Clemson football to hold them over until the Tigers kick off the season in Athens against their old rival, the University of Georgia. Here are the top thing for Clemson fans and fans of opponents to watch for this Saturday.
The Great Quarterback Race: It’s a three man competition to see who will replace Tajh Boyd as the Tigers’ signal caller for 2014. The man most considered to be the front runner is Cole Stoudt. The Senior from Dublin, Ohio completed 47 passes as Boyd’s back up last year. He had 415 yard and 5 passing touchdowns, earning a QB rating of 166.7. Stoudt showed some running ability, which is key to Clemson’s spread offense. He rushed for 58 yards on 14 attempts with 2 touchdowns. Stoudt also has an impressive pedigree; His father, Cliff Stoudt, was a quarterback in both the NFL and the USFL from 1977-1991. However,Cole is not the only Clemson quarterback to claim a famous bloodline. The main competitor to Stoudt is Chad Kelly, the nephew of Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. The sophomore from Niagara Falls, New York made the most of his limited snaps in 2013, breaking off a few big runs to assure Tiger fans that the ACL injury he suffered in last year’s spring game has healed. His 38 yard touchdown run against Virginia showed his potential to be a great fit for Chad Morris’s offense. The third man in the running is true freshman Deshaun Watson. Watson enrolled at Clemson in January after graduating from Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Georgia. Watson led the Red Elephants to the Georgia State Championship Game in the Georgia Dome, where they fell to Tucker High School. Watson threw for 3775 yards and 47 touchdowns. The Clemson coaching staff have also mentioned his maturity as his most impressive feature. Watson even earned the respect of Clemson Great Steve Fuller. Fuller, who was the quarterback for the Tigers in the late 1970’s, allowed for the program to “un-retire” his number four so that Watson can wear it.
Who Steps Up At Receiver: The Tigers obviously will have trouble filling the void left by all-everything wide receiver Sammy Watkins, but an overlooked hole is that left by Martavis Bryant, who also chose to leave after his junior season in Tiger Town. While Clemson may not have the star power that Watkins brought, there is definitely depth at the position. Adam Humphries returns for his senior year and a chance to add to his legacy. Clemson coaches have stated that Humphries is faster than Watkins, and that is certainly believable. But it’s the constancy of Humphries’s hands that make the plays. Humphries has pulled in 41 receptions in each of the last two seasons, despite playing with Watkins and current Houston Texans receiver Deandre Hopkins. The Tigers also will have Charone Peake returning from returning from a knee injury he suffered in Clemson’s opening win against UGA. Peake received a medical redshirt, so he will also have eligibility in 2015. At 6-3, 200 pounds, the Dorman High School product looks to be a solid replacement for Bryant. The suspension of wide receiver Germone Hopper for the Spring will also allow other receivers to show their abilities.
The Beast Is Back: Vic Beasley kept fans waiting until the last day to declare, but no one in orange seemed to mind since he decided to stay for his senior season. The Adairsville, Georgia native posted 13 sacks in the 2013 season and was projected to be anywhere from a late first round pick to a mid second round pick in the draft. At 6-3, 225 pounds, Beasley can possibly improve his draft stock by bulking up. After switching positions multiple times in his career, Beasley finally found his spot when he moved to defensive end in 2012. Beasley looks to lead a defensive line that could be one of the best in recent memory for Clemson.