By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Coming out of halftime against Boston College, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was on track for a record day after completing 16-26 passes for 284 yards and rushing 38 yards. When he went down in the beginning of the 3rd quarter with what looked to be an injury to his knee, the mood in Death Valley completely changed as fans saw the Tigers chances to continue their undefeated streak with their star quarterback injured diminish.
Boyd’s injury was a hip strain however, with his fall looking far more serious than his actual injury which comes as a relief to him, his teammates and Tiger Nation. Although his back up true freshman Cole Stoudt came into the game and led the team to a 36-14 victory over the Golden Eagles, and doing a great job of picking up where Boyd left off, having Boyd back under center as the Tigers take on the Maryland Terrapins this weekend at Byrd Stadium will help the team’s chances at improving to 7-0 on the season.
“I caught a lot of flak for the way I was carted off the field Saturday,” Boyd said on Tuesday. “I went into the team meeting yesterday and everyone told me the instead of sitting in the front seat of the golf cart I should have just driven it, it would’ve looked better.”
According to Boyd while he was on the ground Saturday in pain, Coach Swinney was more upset about the fact that Boyd wasn’t wearing his hip pad, something Boyd said he didn’t do for “swag reasons,” but promises that he’ll never forget to put it on again.
At Monday’s practice, Boyd sat out and watched, wanting to continue rehab instead of jumping right back into practice however he expected that he would be taking every snap at Tuesday’s practice and would be able to go full speed.
“I feel fine now, I feel like I felt before the injury,” Boyd said. “I only sat out Monday for precautionary measures. I saw the hit on replay, and it could have turned out a lot worse I’m very fortunate that it turned out in my favor.”
Mentally Boyd doesn’t believe that there will be any obstacles to overcome at the beginning of the game Saturday at Byrd Stadium.
“Not at all, I feel very confident in the game plan we have coming into this game,” Boyd said. “I’m confident in the guys that I have around me and I’m very excited about it. Last week was the midway point of the season, so it’s all downhill from here we’ve just got to take advantage of every game and do what we can to win.”
Initially when Boyd went down, he didn’t understand the severity of his injury until he tried to get back up and walk and fell back down.
“When I put pressure on it, that’s when I went back down.” Boyd said. “It was a little scary, but it could’ve been a whole lot worse. It puts things in perspective for you knowing that anything can happen on any play.”
According to Boyd, one good thing came out of his injury on Saturday, which was giving Cole Stoudt a chance to play.
“It was good to see Cole get some reps, he hasn’t had a lot of reps this season,” Boyd said. “I was proud of the way he went in there and took control of the team and the game. That was one of the big positives that came out of Saturday.”
Because of his injury, Boyd learned that his teammates will persevere and stick together no matter what happens during a game.
“This is one of those teams where if someone does go down, it can’t be like it’s a chink in the armor,” Boyd said. “Guys have to be ready to play and step in at any level, not just Cole but any younger guy has to put things in perspective, be prepared and study, because you never know what’s going to happen. And for the guys that are playing they have to take advantage of every moment that you have because you never know when they can go. This injury made it much more clear to me.”
Boyd was off to a career start before he was injured, and believed that the offense was finally starting to come together and do what Coach Morris promised it would.
“Especially in the first three drives, the tempo was just really fast we were flying,” Boyd said. “We came out of the gates really fast which is something we’ve been trying to establish this whole year. I think it’s starting to come together, slowly but surely. We’re taking it piece by piece in practice, day by day trying to keep improving.”
As for the Tigers’ second road test this weekend, Boyd feels like as long as his offense can control the tempo of the game, they can control the game as well.
“As long as we control the tempo at Maryland we can control the game,” Boyd said. “That’s something we stress as an offense, tempo will be a big part of this week.”
The Tigers’ faced Virginia Tech in their first road challenge of the season, and not only were the fans against them but so was the weather as it was raining and around 50 degrees, coming into Maryland, Boyd believes that nothing should affect the way Morris’s offense works.
“Byrd Stadium is definitely a hard environment to play in,” Boyd said. “But from my perspective, I don’t believe that where you go will affect your play. As long as you stick to the game plan and execute the offense, the crowd shouldn’t be a factor, weather; it’s all about how well you execute the game plan.”
As the second road game, Boyd expects fewer nerves than he faced against Virginia Tech, where he started off slowly and at times threw the ball high.
“I feel like I settled down a little more,” Boyd said. “I hear it gets pretty loud at Byrd Stadium, but when you’re out there you don’t really hear anything. It’s all about your play and the opponents. It’s going to be a big week of studying for us; they’ve got some good players up there at Maryland. Actually their starting defensive tackle was my left tackle in high school so it’s going to be strange going up against a guy that used to block for me.”
Boyd doesn’t believe that there will be any change to his running or throwing motion this Saturday against the Terps.
“Nothing will change, I don’t think I’ll go out there and get sensitive to it,” Boyd said. “When you’re going to go, you’ve got to go all out and give it everything you’ve got. We’ll see what I do in practice today, I’m pretty sure I’ll be full speed but if not then there’ll still be some precautionary measures, I’m just excited to get back out there and get started.”