By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was asked tonight what he wanted for Christmas. His response? To bring the Orange Bowl trophy back to Clemson, South Carolina.
With a month of preparation for the bowl game underway, Boyd sees similarities and differences between bowl season and fall camp, as the Tigers’ have spent a lot of practice time not only preparing for West Virginia but working on fundamentals as well.
“They’re similar but different because of the situation that we’re in,” Boyd said. “We put a lot of things in perspective as to how the season went and it makes it just more significant this time of year. We’re just excited to have the opportunity to go out and show the nation again what type of team we are.”
“We’re installing the game plan one piece at a time and then also working on the fundamentals, getting back to the basics,” Boyd said. “We’re incorporating a lot of new things but at the same time we’ve got to focus on what we can and just execute.”
Clemson’s performance at the ACC Championship was indescribable, as the Tigers’ put together their best game of the season on all facets of the game.
“We put together our best game of the season against Virginia Tech, offensively, defensively, and special teams,” Boyd said. “We’re looking to put that together again this time around and we’ve just got to keep working and get excited about it. Guys are in the film room studying really hard, it’s almost like we’re preparing for the opener again. Everyone is excited and the anticipation is building up, I can’t wait.”
The Christmas music that the coaches play before practice not only puts Boyd in the Christmas spirit but also makes him think of what he’s thankful for.
“It really makes me think about what I’m thankful for,” Boyd said. “Some of these guys, it’s the last time that they’ll be together and we’ve really become like a family. It’s going to be sad to see some of these guys go but again we have a very solid young team as well and we’ve got to just learn from it and keep the legacy going.”
Boyd believes there’s a sense around the team, a focus that just getting the invitation to the Orange Bowl isn’t enough.
“Getting there just isn’t enough,” Boyd said. “It’s a great accomplishment don’t get me wrong but we’re not just going down there for the vacation, we’re going to win the football game. Coach Swinney ingrained that in our heads as well, we’ve just got to put everything together and go to work.”
Boyd has had the chance to look over West Virginia’s defense several times and is very impressed with their secondary and the fact that they haven’t given up 100 yards to a receiver once this season.
“They’re definitely a talented bunch,” Boyd said. “Very athletic, very physical, they’ve got a great system over there. We’ve just got to get ready to play. We’ve got a lot of great players over here and so do they, so it’s all about winning the match up and I’m looking forward to playing.”
Boyd believes that his go to receivers will be able to perform like they have all season against the Mountaineers, however he knows it’ll be a challenge.
“They’ll probably drop eight on us,” Boyd said. “When you start to open things up a little bit, defenses usually get away from what they do. We just have to come out, be ready to play. We’ve got a great trip planned and are excited to get to Miami, however the attitude the team has is that this is a business trip and the game is the focus of the trip.”
What would an Orange Bowl win mean going into spring practice next year?
“It would be a spring board,” Boyd said. “It’ll mean a new attitude around practice, momentum would be swinging upwards going into spring practice. We haven’t won a major bowl game since 1981 so doing it this year would be huge for the program.”
Boyd, who believed he first became comfortable with Coach Morris’s new offense during the Florida State win earlier this season knows that he hasn’t reached his potential yet and is looking forward to continuing to work in the off season and grow as a quarterback.
“My confidence is going to continue to grow and going into the off season knowing the offense and seeing how I can improve,” Boyd said. “Honestly I don’t think I’m anywhere near my potential so I’m going to do as much as I can now and after the season to improve.”