By Will Vandervort
When his left shoulder hit the ground and then Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu fell on top of him, all Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd heard was a nasty crunching and cracking sound.
“My initial thought was like, ‘this is the end of my career at Clemson,’” said Boyd following sixth-rank Clemson’s 55-31 victory over Georgia Tech Thursday night in Clemson. “That’s the initial thought that ran through my mind. I don’t like to lay down for anything. I felt like it could have been a situation where something bad could have happened.
“Fortunately, God looked out for me and it was nothing too serious.”
Boyd says he has a bruised sternum and collarbone, but nothing is broken. He says he will ice it up and get it ready for next Saturday when he plays his final game in Death Valley against The Citadel.
And yes, the senior says he will play against the Bulldogs.
“I cannot not play in my last game in the Valley,” he said. “Maybe I will throw a (extra) pad in here or something, but I will be practicing on Monday and things of that nature. I will be just fine.”
Before the injury, Boyd was definitely fine. The extra week off seemed to really help the Tigers’ signal caller as he completed 20 of 26 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 43 more yards and scored on a one-yard plunge.
“Coach (Chad Morris) put us in great situations and gave us great opportunities with our matchups,” Boyd said. “He gave me the freedom to do certain things. So when it was out there, we went there and accomplished it.”
Boyd accomplished three more records, including becoming the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, a feat that became possible when he threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant that gave Clemson a 27-7 lead with 5:44 to play in the second quarter.
When it was announced a few moments later to the 75,324 that were in attendance that Boyd had set the ACC mark for touchdown passes; offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who was already coaching Boyd up on an earlier play, stepped back and let his senior take it all in.
“It was all about him so I wanted to back away from him,” Morris said. “He looked over at me, and I saw that he kind of had tears in his eyes. I then told him how proud of him I was of him. What a great accomplishment for him.”
Boyd also had touchdown passes of 41, 44 and 4 yards to Sammy Watkins and freshman Mike Williams, bringing his career-record total to 97. Former NC State quarterback Phillip Rivers threw 95 touchdown passes from 2000-’03.
“It is pretty sweet,” Boyd said. “I can’t say that it is irrelevant right now because it is relevant right now. It is a special thing. It is special for me. It is special for the team and it is special for Coach Morris.”
Boyd also set a new mark at Clemson for career completions—he did it on a 47-yard pass play to Bryant—while becoming the first player in ACC history to throw for 10,000 yards and run for 1,000 more.
He broke Charlie Whitehurst’s completion record which was set at 817 from 2002-’05. Boyd now has 830 completions. He owns 51 school records at Clemson.
“We have grown so much as people in general,” Boyd said about his relationship with Morris. “As a player in his system and knowing he has the confidence and he has entrusted the offense with me these last three years has been awesome.
“To accomplish these things in three years that a lot of guys did in four years has made it that much special. We have a couple of more things out there that are ahead of us and I’m sure there are a couple of more records out there that we want to get, but for right now, we just want to keep winning.”