Bowl an opportunity to validate season
CLEMSON — Clemson’s disappointing 27-17 loss to South Carolina wasn’t all the offense’s fault.
Sure, Chad Morris’ high-powered system made its share of mistakes: two key Tajh Boyd interceptions caused by intense defensive line pressure, an offensive line that struggled to contain star sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and some key drops from normally reliable receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.
Still, it’s hard to lay too much blame on the offense, given that Clemson ran only 19 second-half snaps.
However, Boyd is more than willing to accept his share of blame for the defeat.
“They were a good team – they were better than us that day,” he said Friday. “We didn’t put our best foot forward.”
Two weeks later, Boyd is doing just that – looking forward. With an attractive Chick-fil-A Bowl matchup against No.9 LSU (10-2) on tap, Clemson’s junior quarterback views New Year’s Eve as a huge opportunity for the Tigers’ program.
“It’s a chance to redeem ourselves,” he said. “We can go prove we can compete, prove we belong. It’s a chance to play one of our best games.”
Boyd admitted the limited second-half opportunities affected his offense against South Carolina.
“We kind of pressed,” he said. “There are no excuses. It’s one of those deals. We have to be mentally in tune the whole game. There’s no room to wander off. We have to be ready to compete the whole game. That’s what it takes. We had a great week of practice and we didn’t come out and execute as well as we needed to. Hopefully (the bowl game) will be a different story. We’d love to send the seniors off on a great note, feel different and be excited about it.”
Some of that pressure, Boyd says, falls on his shoulders. When asked what he could have done differently against South Carolina, he pointed to emotional leadership.
“I have to try and inspire the guys a little more,” he said. “When you looked on the other sideline, as the fourth quarter started, guys were excited, hopping up and down. On our sideline, it was ‘All right, fourth quarter, emotional game.’ You have to play with technique and physicality, but you also have to play with emotion.
“I think (South Carolina was) a little more psyched up. I have to do a better job of that. You have to play calm and poised, but you have to have an edge about you. That’s something I have to make sure I do as I gather up the team.”
Excitement, Boyd said, shouldn’t be lacking as Clemson prepares for its Georgia Dome showdown with the Bayou Bengals.
“There are no guys complaining about being ready for the season to be over,” he said. “It’s a one-game season now and we have 20-some days to prepare. Christmas is coming up, and I don’t see too many guys ready to go home for Christmas. It’s an important game for the program, and we’re excited about getting ready to play those guys.”