By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
CLEMSON — For a third straight week, eighth-ranked Clemson came out focused, played with a purpose and were poised. And for a third straight week, the game was basically over by the end of the first quarter.
But, for the third straight week the Tigers got complacent and lost focus. And though they scored six touchdowns and kicked a field goal in their 45-10 victory over Maryland Saturday in Death Valley, they could have done a whole lot more.
“That’s what we are trying not to,” quarterback Tajh Boyd said. “We are trying to remain focus and we are trying to remain consistent. Coach (Chad Morris) stresses that all the time. We have to continue to do what we can to get better.”
But in a way, one might think the Tigers are getting worse. Through the first eight weeks Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC) turned the ball over only eight times, but in the last two games it has given up the football seven times—three interceptions and four fumbles.
“The turnovers, obviously, we have to improve on that,” Morris said. “The first one (Boyd) missed the read and laid it on the ground, and then the second one the guy hit him pretty hard. But he has to do a good job. He can’t be spinning down in the red zone area, he has to get down.
“Get what you can and get down.”
The good news, the Tigers have been able to overcome those mistakes. Clemson has allowed just one touchdown off those seven turnovers and for the season, teams have scored only 24 points off turnovers.
Before Maryland got a 17-yard touchdown pass from Shawn Petty to Devonte Campbell after Adam Humphries muffed a punt at his own 18, the Clemson defense had held its opposition to no points after nine straight turnovers – a school record.
“You can just see those guys are having fun out there,” Boyd said about his defensive teammates. “It is always good to see our defense playing that way and playing back to the point to where they used to play.
“It’s our job to score as an offense, but in that regard, it’s good to know that they have our backs.”
Let’s make no mistake here, the Clemson offense is playing at a very high level, too. They scored 45 points and had 436 total yards against the nation’s 11th best defense. The 45 points were the most the Terrapins allowed this year.
Boyd threw for 261 yards and added to his league leading 28 touchdowns with three more. His night was done by the end of the third quarter as the Tigers rolled up 37 or more points for an ACC record ninth consecutive week.
But there were still mistakes made and Boyd says their biggest opponent right now is themself.
“We are our worst enemy,” he said. “I feel like that is always the case. You are not playing against an opponent necessarily. Coach (Dabo Swinney) says we are playing against a nameless opponent.
“That’s really how it is. You really have to go out there and execute the game plan. Coach (Morris) puts us in great situations, and sometimes you are going to have to create a little bit, but most of the time things are there. I’m very comfortable with the way we are performing, especially what is a legitimately top fifteen defense.”