By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Before Clemson’s season opener, there was a lot of question marks surrounding first year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd and if he would be able to have a breakout year for the Tigers. It’s safe to say now after Boyd led his Tigers in what turned out to be a convincing win over reigning National Champions Auburn that he’s going to be a special player for Clemson and fits perfectly into Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris’s spread style offense.
Boyd ended the game completing 30-42 passes for 386 yards which is the second best effort in Clemson football history. Although Boyd is pleased with how he performed on Saturday, he knows that he couldn’t have had as good of a game without the various weapons he has with him on offense.
“We’ve got some players that make great plays, and my job is just to put the ball in their hands,” Boyd said. “It was our duty today to go out there and score. I know that I just have to manage the game and let them make plays. Our offense is so explosive; we can score at any time as you saw on the first drive of the second half. We may be down but we’re never out.”
What was the difference this week? Clemson looked like a different team for the majority of the game Saturday than they did struggling to win against Troy and Wofford.
“We’re starting to become a little potent,” Boyd said. “And that’s something we’ve been stressing as a whole this week. We had a great week of practice, the offensive line performed great today, I felt like I was back there drinking some coffee. We had over 600 yards of total offense, and I really hope that this propels us into ACC play, we’ve just got to keep working from here.”
At one point in Saturday’s contest, the Tigers had converted on 10 straight third downs, something that Boyd couldn’t be happier about.
“That’s one of the biggest things that we’ve been stressing as a group,” Boyd said. “The first two games we didn’t do so well and those are drive killers. After going three and out in the first two series against Auburn, I knew we had to turn it around. We came out and made some good decisions as a whole and just took it from there.”
This huge win for the Tigers also served as a great confidence booster for Boyd and his decision making, something that he’ll need as Clemson’s Schedule of Champions continues.
“It was definitely a confidence booster; this is a schedule of champions” Boyd said. “It’s just something we’ll need to keep working with, we’re definitely feeling confident as a group right now but we’re far from finished. We’ve just got to keep working.”
What did this game do for Boyd from a growth stand point as a first year starter?
“It definitely helped out a lot,” Boyd said. “One of the biggest things today was me finding a comfort zone, and finding that early really helped out a lot. We’ve got a lot of players that have helped me out in that situation, so we’ve just got to take it from here and learn from our mistakes and keep getting better.”
One of those players that has continued to help Boyd find his comfort zone this season is tight end Dwayne Allen. Here’s what he had to say about his quarterback and how well he performed versus the reigning National Champs.
“Fat Boy feasted,” Allen said. “He was so calm in the pocket today, talk about a leader. I looked back at Fat Boy and he was smiling the whole day. That’s a good sight to see. When your quarterback is confident that gets everyone else excited.”
The “Fat Boy” nickname comes from a weigh in last season where Boyd weighed in at over 240 pounds on his 6 foot 2 frame. After shedding some weight in the offseason, Boyd proved Saturday that he could run the football efficiently and lead his team to victory.
Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris couldn’t be more pleased with the performance of his quarterback Saturday and how quickly he’s seen Tajh improve throughout the season.
“He just keeps getting better and better,” Morris said. “He keeps maturing in front of our eyes, we challenged him this week just like we did the offensive line, and he responded.”