CLEMSON — There was never any intent for quarterback Tajh Boyd to play in Clemsons spring football game. Boyd said he wasnt in on the secret until a few days earlier.
The plan, coach Dabo Swinney said Saturday, was to give Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly opportunities to extend their spirited competition for the backup job, and it seemed to be working fine until Kelly, a redshirt freshman from Buffalo, N.Y., was severely injured trying to extend a run during his teams second possession.
Swinney said Kelly apparently tore a knee ligament, which likely would require surgery. An MRI will provide the answer, and Swinney retained hope to have Kelly back by late next fall.
My heart just breaks for him, Swinney said. Hes worked so hard. Hes had a great spring. He was so fired up to go play today, and got off to a great start. Its just a fluky thing.
Stoudt, the incumbent, noticed Kelly making a convincing case until the injury. In his first possession in Death Valley, Kelly completed 6 of 7 passes for 43 yards, including a touchdown pass to Charone Peake. Kelly also flashed more mobility, rushing for 23 yards on 4 carries, on this day one too many.
I hated that we didnt get to see Chad all day, Swinney said. At least everybody got a chance to get a little glimpse of what that guy can do.
Other than the injury to Kelly, it was a good day to be Stoudt.
Were all hurt that hes hurt. Were all going to be here for him, Stoudt said. Competing with him made both of us and Tajh better.
Unable to reach the end zone with his first three possessions, Stoudt passed for touchdowns on the next four, two to Sammy Watkins, one each to Stanton Seckinger and Adam Humphries.
Stoudt and Watkins broke Clemson spring game records for passing and receiving yardage. Stoudts 304 yards came on 16 of 24 passes, breaking the record 290 set by Charlie Whitehurst in 2004. Watkins 156 yards on seven catches broke the record 174 set by Rendrick Taylor in 2006.
Coles had a real good spring, offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. Hes gotten a lot better, but hes got a long way to go. Weve all got a long way to go.
Martavis Bryant flashed his athleticism as a potential complement to Watkins with 7 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. It was also hard to miss freshman tight end Jordan Leggett, who caught 7 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, or sophomore Stanton Seckinger who caught a 75-yarder from Stoudt.
Other than Kellys injury, Swinney thought the team emerged relatively unscathed. Guard Kalon Davis and tight end Sam Cooper also sustained knee injuries in the first 20 plays, but neither was anticipated to be as crippling as Kellys. Davis had been making a push for a starting job.
The two teams ran more than 90 plays for more than 600 yards in the first half. The Orange team rallied from a two-point halftime deficit to prevail, 34-26.
I think that we achieved our goals and objectives, Swinney said. Were at a good spot from a get-ready standpoint.
Ill be excited to get back to work with them.