Run, Tajh, run! Can a bit of Dantzler's dazzle make Tigers' offense soar?

The threat of a running quarterback is a foundation piece of Chad Morris' offensive plan

Clemson's Tajh Boyd runs during the second half of their ACC Championship game in Charlotte.

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson's Tajh Boyd runs during the second half of their ACC Championship game in Charlotte.

Run, Woody, run!

Of all the offensive philosophies and schemes Clemson has tried out through the years - from Frank Howard's four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust, to Danny Ford complementing his defensive focus by playing for field position and then striking opportunistically, to Rich Rodriguez making up new plays on the fly over a lunch conversation, sketching them on napkin, and then taking them to practice - my favorite is the most simple and least structured of them all.

Drop Woodrow Dantzler back in the shotgun, find a seam, and then run!

Turned loose to find his own way, Dantzler dazzled.

In 2001, he became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1000 yards in a season.

There was no question of 'the chicken or the egg.' The run came first, and Dantzler's arm was good enough to make the offense hum.

College football waited most of a decade to see the formula come to full bloom - this time to perfection, as Cam Newton rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and passed for more 2,800 while leading Auburn to its unbeaten, national championship 2010 season.

As Clemson prepares to embark on its 2012 football quest, the connections between Woody Dantzler, Cam Newton and Tajh Boyd form an intriguing triangle.

The 2012 Tigers need a little of what Dantzler gave the 2001 Tigers. And a little might go a long way toward carrying Boyd, and Clemson, to a Newton-like season.

Boyd, of course, is neither Dantzler nor Newton, nor does he need to be. He was plenty good last season, rewriting Clemson's passing records while executing Chad Morris' offense - a derivative of the Gus Malzahn offense in which Newton excelled two years ago.

There were a couple of things missing during the Tigers' first year under Morris, however - a dependable, short-yardage running game, and the defense-paralyzing, every-down threat of a quarterback not only able, but willing, to turn almost any play into a 20-yard run.

For Morris' offense to soar, the quarterback keeper isn't just icing on the cake - it's foundational.

A year ago, Boyd carried the football 142 times for 218 yards - numbers obviously skewed by sacks and short-yardage keepers, but telling nonetheless.

This year, the Tigers need more: more carries, more yardage, more big-play, rushing-game impact from the quarterback position.

It starts with just a bit of a 'run, Woody, run,' frame of mind.

Clemson doesn't need for Boyd to rush for 1,500, or even 1,000 yards. But it does need to make a statement early that the quarterback is a true triple threat - to execute the offense and put the ball in the playmakers' hands, to throw the ball down the field with both discretion and accuracy, and to become a playmaker himself in the rushing game.

A year ago, wisdom dictated caution.

The Tigers went into the season with a new offense led by a sophomore quarterback who'd never started a game, backed by two first-year freshmen.

This time around, the position is in better shape. Cole Stoudt performed capably last season in a back-up role, and was pushed for his job during preseason camp by highly-regarded Chad Kelly - who was recruited specifically by Morris to run his offense - and Morgan Roberts.

An injury to Boyd would be a blow.

But for a team with so many weapons, it's worth the risk to turn Boyd loose, let him play, and see how far he can run with this promising 2012 season.

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Comments » 5

Keowee writes:

Tajh not running has been the biggest disappointment and the biggest difference in them losing games. When he does decide to run its about 3 seconds to late when it was wide open. He is much slower than I thought he would be also. Dantzler could motor, tajh is no where near a Dantzler. Even worse is the way Tajh locks onto the receiver with his eyes. A dead give away for the defense. He has had guys open for TDs and he never even saw them. He is like most of the over rated Clemson players in that they can only perform against the Div 2 or the weakest Div 1 teams. He absolutely does not look like a leader on the field. Hope its different this season.

kellytown writes:

in response to Keowee:

Tajh not running has been the biggest disappointment and the biggest difference in them losing games. When he does decide to run its about 3 seconds to late when it was wide open. He is much slower than I thought he would be also. Dantzler could motor, tajh is no where near a Dantzler. Even worse is the way Tajh locks onto the receiver with his eyes. A dead give away for the defense. He has had guys open for TDs and he never even saw them. He is like most of the over rated Clemson players in that they can only perform against the Div 2 or the weakest Div 1 teams. He absolutely does not look like a leader on the field. Hope its different this season.

Weakest div 1 teams are you for real!!! come on I don't think auburn or va tech or fsu are weak div. 1 teams. I agree with some things you commented on but you are way off base on the majority of your comments.

SlappleDapple writes:

Keowee, Last year was his first year as a starter in a new offense. All rookie QBs do unless they're a 26 yr old former baseball player. I bet Andrew Luck made the same types of mistakes his first year. I know Matt Barkley did. I saw him play. This year he's the Heisman frontrunner. Players are allowed to improve from year to year and Tajh has gone above and beyond the call in preparing for the season. If the line plays decent Tajh is going to have a much better year than last year. If he can get 60-70 yds a game rushing, the Morris O would put up video game numbers every week. If Tajh was that awful he wouldn't be 1st team all-ACC

brookesdad729 writes:

in response to SlappleDapple:

Keowee, Last year was his first year as a starter in a new offense. All rookie QBs do unless they're a 26 yr old former baseball player. I bet Andrew Luck made the same types of mistakes his first year. I know Matt Barkley did. I saw him play. This year he's the Heisman frontrunner. Players are allowed to improve from year to year and Tajh has gone above and beyond the call in preparing for the season. If the line plays decent Tajh is going to have a much better year than last year. If he can get 60-70 yds a game rushing, the Morris O would put up video game numbers every week. If Tajh was that awful he wouldn't be 1st team all-ACC

Thanks for that comment SlappleDapple! A lot of people tend to forget that not only was Tajh a rookie last year but also it was our first year in Morris' offense. I think that they even surprised themselves. Clemson is a team on the rise. We are young and rebuilding and all the pieces are not in place yet but they will be by the end of this year I believe. We're playing with a bunch of RS freshmen and sophomores and I think that we have played beyond expectations. How many wins that translates into will really depend more on the defense than offense in my opinion. We can score, we just have to stop the other team from scoring!

TrevorT writes:

Sorry Keowee, but I'm just going to say it... That was the dumbest post I have ever read. Did you even watch a game last season? This has got to be a gamecock attempting a joke.

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