By Gray Gardner.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is wasting no time in preparing for new offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ offense. For Boyd – who played sparingly last season – the excitement continues to build as he considers the opportunities the spread offense will bring.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Boyd said. “The tempo of (Morris’) offense is going to get moving really fast.”
Boyd has only watched around 6 hours of film from Morris’ offense last season at Tulsa, but already can tell how his playing style will work in the system.
“I feel like I fit in very well,” Boyd said. “There’s a lot of things that I’ve watched from the Tulsa offense with the guy they had, GJ Kinne. The best thing about the way (Morris) implicates everything in the offense is he exploits all the players and their abilities. So it will definitely be one of those offenses where the playmakers get the ball and have a chance to do something with it.”
In the past, Boyd has been labeled as a pro-style or pocket passer quarterback. When asked if this would hurt him in the new offense, Boyd said no, “not at all.”
“I think it could actually be a perfect fit, just to keep defenses on the edge,” he said. “I’m trying to become the most versatile player as I can to make the offense explosive. Just having that extra threat could make this offense explode, as you can see from all the spread teams as far as Oregon, Auburn and even teams like Texas.”
“An urgency to get in shape”
For Boyd, the off-season means getting in shape and losing weight in order to work on his speed.
“I’m trying to cut a few pounds so I’m trying to get as mobile as I can for this offense. I’m looking forward to running it,” he said.
Currently weighing in just under 230 lbs., Boyd said his goal is to get down around 218 for the season, a goal that should easily be reached given the team’s new conditioning plan for the winter.
“Last year we worked out Monday through Thursday but this year it’s Monday through Friday, so I think we’ll be ready come Spring Practice,” Boyd said. “There’s definitely an urgency to get in shape. Coach (Morris) said the first week he expected everybody’s tongues to be dragging on the ground, so I’m not really looking forward to that.”
Speed and weight loss aren’t the only objectives for Boyd this off-season. Possibly the biggest challenge for the quarterback will be preparing his arm for an entire season of passing the football.
“I throw pretty much every day, me and a few of the guys,” Boyd said. “Last off-season I threw, but not to the point where I felt like my arm would fall off. It’s definitely something you have to get accustomed to.”
Besides throwing, Boyd and the other quarterbacks are spending time on weight training and resistance training in order to increase arm strength and durability. The junior signal-caller knows there is no time to waste.
“Things are coming fast so we definitely have to start getting things moving. This whole off-season has already gone by pretty fast,” he said. “’All In’ drills start Monday, and things will really progress after that.”
Getting to know Morris
Until practice starts in March, Boyd is focused on building his relationship with his new coach.
Since coming on staff in January, Morris and Boyd have met several times a week to talk about the offense and have even gone out to eat on different occasions. Boyd said that as a quarterback it’s important to build a strong relationship with the offensive coordinator.
“I know he’s coached a few guys like Jevon Snead (former Ole Miss quarterback) and Garrett Gilbert (starting quarterback for the Texas Longhorns). I got to talk to (Gilbert) on the phone and he said Morris is one of his favorite coaches, so I’m looking forward to working with him.
“I think Coach Morris runs the quarterbacks more like fun-spirited, almost like another friend in the room. He’s definitely going to be someone we can have a lot of fun with but still learn a lot from.”
Morris’ offense appears to Boyd to be somewhere in between that of Auburn and Oregon.
“The way it’s set up is to create mismatches, so it should be great for our playmakers.”
When it comes to playmakers, Chad Morris should have plenty to choose from.
Returning offensive threats Andre Ellington, DeAndre Hopkins, and Dwayne Allen will be joined by high-profile signees Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake, Mike Bellamy, Martavis Bryant, and Eric MacLain, among others.
Signing Day was an exciting day for Boyd, who knows he will soon be surrounded on the field by great talent. Boyd has already gotten to know several of the freshmen that will be joining the team in July.
“I actually talked to Mike Bellamy yesterday, he called me,” Boyd said. “He’s definitely a character and will be fun to work with.”
Boyd has even witnessed first hand the athleticism of two of his new wide receivers.
While at head coach Dabo Swinney’s house during official visits, Boyd said Charone Peake and Sammy Watkins were outside playing basketball.
“I said, ‘Charone, let me see something.’ So he just stood underneath the hoop and off his vertical just dunked it,” Boyd said smiling. “Sammy was the same way, but he dunked it with two hands. Definitely having those guys won’t be too bad out there.”