By Will Vandervort
It’s hard to imagine an offense that set just about every school record imaginable being any better, but that’s the goal offensive coordinator Chad Morris has for the Clemson football team.
“I fully expect us to better,” Morris said. “I expected us to be more aggressive, and I expect us to expand more in our offense.”
Last year, the Tigers set 85 school records on an individual or team basis. Among the more significant records were most points (533), most total yards (6,665), most plays (1,062) and most passing yards (4,181).
The total yards mark and plays were Atlantic Coast Conference marks as well.
And though Clemson lost key offensive weapons in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, tight end Brandon Ford and running back Andre Ellington, Morris says the offense can be better thanks to one key ingredient – they return third-year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd.
“I don’t care who you are,” Morris said, “It can be any team. But to be successful it all starts with the quarterback.”
Few teams in the country have a quarterback of Boyd’s experience, maturity and stature under center. Boyd, Clemson’s first ever First-Team All-American quarterback and 2012 ACC Player of the Year, set conference records for touchdown responsibility (46) and broke his own record for touchdown passes in a season with 36.
He helped the Tigers lead the ACC in scoring (41 points per game), total offense (512.7 yards), passing yards, passing efficiency, third down conversions, fourth conversion and red zone success.
“Dealing with a third-year starter, a guy such as Tajh, we know what he has done the first two years in this system,” Morris said. “We are fully aware of the records he has set and broken and the expectations he has met and is looking to meet this year.
“Having that kind of guy back for a third year allows us to expand even more in our offense. He gets it. He understands it. He understands my personality. I understand his personality. He and I think a lot alike in certain situations and those are things that you cannot coach. Those are things you develop and earn with time.
“It is kind of an earned relationship.”
It’s a relationship that has everyone outside of Clemson talking about the Heisman Trophy for Boyd and a possible national championship for the program.
“One of the main reasons why I came back to school was to help this team accomplish a championship,” Boyd said. “When I decided to come to Clemson, from the get-go, I wanted to come here to help win championships. We have been able to do a little bit so far since I have been here, but I’m excited to get one more last shot at it.”
Boyd and the Tigers might get that opportunity if he can do what Morris wants him to do this year. Clemson’s offensive coordinator says Boyd has mastered roughly 80 percent of the offense to this point, and he expects his quarterback should be able to get the rest of it down in fall camp, which begins Friday.
If Boyd can do that, then maybe the offense can be better than last year’s, which is hard to imagine.
“I think it can be accomplished,” Boyd said. “The more you start to mature and the older you start to get, the more important certain things are. I have been at Clemson now for five years and for me it all comes down to these next five months.
“For me it is about embracing every opportunity, every practice and every workout. Every time I step out onto that field I’m trying to be the best player and leader that I can possibly be. Once you start to mature you start to embrace all the opportunities and moments you get so I’m going to go out there and live in the moment and enjoy it.”