By Ed McGranahan.
By Ed McGranahan
Life in a fishbowl becomes testy in a hurry when expectations are at Defcon 3 and climbing. Nobody understands better than the quarterback, the unequivocal leader of the current team.
While Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd certainly played well enough to beat NC State, there’s a school of thought that 24 of 37 for 244 yards and three touchdown passes weren’t Heisman Trophy worthy passing numbers.
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris suggested this week Boyd should relax and enjoy the ride. Maybe, as Coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday, something has been lost in the context and it’s only a matter of going back to basics.
“Our expectations are monstrous for him,” Swinney said. “So, you just go back and say let’s take a deep breath and talk through this. It’s early in the season.
“He came back and played lights out. He’s not going to get worse. He’s just going to keep finding that rhythm.”
Indeed, in the second half Boyd completed 9 of 11 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns — that’s a 218.18 pass efficiency rating, which is otherworldy.
“That’s just the nature of playing quarterback,” Boyd said. “We have expectations of what the offense is supposed to look like.
“Each year it starts out a little bit rocky and a little bit the other side of the fence. You have to understand that it does take time.”
Boyd’s reputation nationally may have ebbed slight since preseason though Brock Huard of ESPN.com’s The Insider hasn’t been “fooled” by the pedestrian statistical start. “He is one of the very best QBs in the country.”
Three games into the season, Boyd’s mind isn’t cluttered by the questions.
“In this offense and the position I’m in, rhythm is everything. I think we got that in the second half. I think that it will continue with this stretch that we have,” he said.
More than his role on the field, the other can take a toll. When Boyd appeared Tuesday at his weekly Q&A the easy smile was not evident. The weekend’s events may have been a gut check for them all.
Defensive tackle Carlos Watkins may miss only one game as he recuperates from injury following the one-car accident Saturday in North Carolina that killed a cousin, Swinney said.
Already thin at receiver after Charone Peake tore an ACL, Swinney revealed that Martavis Bryant was disciplined for an inappropriate gesture after a touchdown in Raleigh that game officials and coaches missed.
Earlier offensive tackle Isaiah Battle had been suspended and faced week-long discipline for landing an uppercut late in the game. Boyd said he intended to voice his displeasure to them both.
“It’s disappointing having those guys missing some times, but it’s needed,” he said. “I do have to do my diligence and will go talk to those guys as well.”
This week Clemson plays Wake Forest, which may not create a ripple on Lake Hartwell unless the Tigers lose.
Regardless, it’s unlikely that life in a fishbowl will soon disappear.