Tajh Boyd, Clemson applying last year's lessons to Chick-fil-A Bowl

Tajh Boyd runs out of a tackle in the fourth quarter

Photo by Mark Crammer

Tajh Boyd runs out of a tackle in the fourth quarter

Tigers ready to get to Atlanta

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— Almost a year later, Tajh Boyd and Clemson are still learning from the Orange Bowl.

West Virginia’s 70-33 shellacking – the second-worst loss in program history – forced Dabo Swinney to re-evaluate his defensive philosophy and led to the departure of defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, as well as the arrival of new DC Brent Venables.

“I personally think there’s a lot of lessons learned from all ends,” Boyd, the Tigers’ junior quarterback, said Thursday. “From the players, to how we operated to the practices, the way that it was run. I think that’ll really be a lesson for us as a whole program. From every position, I think everyone learned something from last year, the way the bowl season was prepared. We didn’t come with our best foot forward in last season’s bowl game. I don’t feel like we were into it as much.”

As No.14 Clemson (10-2) prepares for its Chick-fil-A Bowl showdown against No.9 LSU (10-2) on New Year’s Eve, there’s a different feeling around the program. Players are ready to face off against a top-10 SEC team and chase Clemson’s first bowl victory since a 2009 Music City Bowl triumph over Kentucky.

The Tigers have one final on-campus practice today before breaking for Christmas. They’ll reconvene Dec. 26 in Atlanta and begin final on-site preparations for the Bayou Bengals Dec. 27.

“It’s totally different this year. We’re very excited about it,” Boyd said. “Coach Swinney has done a great job preparing us and challenging us every day. Game planning should be set. We’ve got to make sure we’re clicking on all cylinders.”

Wednesday, sophomore defensive tackle Josh Watson said Swinney “put his boot up our butts and kept it there for four days” in regards to the physicality of on-campus workouts.

“We had some really intense workouts,” offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “We strained them, which is what we need. When you go to a bowl site, I think you’re going to see a day or two of that as well. This ballgame will come down to a physical battle. We’re going to have to play really physical. I’m pleased with how they responded. We had a couple days we didn’t have great days, but we responded the very next day which is good.”

Clemson owns only two wins over teams with more than six victories – Ball State (9-3) and Virginia Tech (7-5). The Tigers faded in the second half against both Florida State and South Carolina, and Boyd knows LSU is an opportunity to burnish his team’s reputation and build momentum for 2013.

For us it’s all about finishing games now,” Boyd said. “We had the opportunity to win both of those games and it fell through for us. Now we have another opportunity. I think we’re becoming a more consistent program as of late, 10 wins the last two seasons. Now it’s time to take that next step. Now it’s time to evolve a little bit more.”

The same goes for Boyd, who was named a first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association as well as the ACC Player of the Year by writers and coaches alike. He threw for 3,550 yards with 34 touchdowns against 13 interceptions, adding nine rushing touchdowns and 492 rushing yards.

Thursday, he confirmed that he submitted paperwork to the NFL draft advisory board, and will consider his decision with his family following the bowl game. He is not projected as a first-round pick, which is Swinney’s benchmark for advising players to leave early.

Morris believes Boyd can use improvement in reading defenses.

“I think he’s a first-round guy, I don’t know if it’s this year. I think it’d be next year,” Morris said. “I think he could definitely improve his draft stock. Those are things he’s got to talk to his family about, that he and I will talk about, and I think he and I have an unbelievable relationship and my opinion would matter to him You’ve got to do what’s best in your family. I think (with his) improvement from year one to year two in the system, going year two to year three he can only improve himself.”

With great honors come great expectations.

“He’s an All-American,” Morris said. “We stress that to him – you’re a first-team All-American, you’re going to have to play like it. You’re going to have to prepare like it. It’s no fluke. They don’t just give those away. How much can we continue to put on him? I think we can continue to put stuff on him, I really do. As we go, working into spring ball, you’re going to see more added to his plate.”

Boyd isn’t worried about spring practice right now, however. His only focus is a strong finish in the Georgia Dome.

“There’s nobody that’s going to pick us to win this game, outside of the people from Clemson and this part of South Carolina,” he said. “It’s exciting for us. A challenge. We’re going to go out there and play with great effort and technique.”

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Comments » 10

richardcd writes:

That all sounds good, but it will come down to Clemson blocking and tackling and playing pass defense with second and third string defenders.

michtiger writes:

This is what bothers me about our coaching staff. Morris is talking Boyd as a first rounder this year or next. That is simply blabber. The pro scouts have him 22 of 22 available QB's. He added mobility but still choked in chrunch in only two big games this year with happy feet and rushed throws. His coaches AM was not repeated even on 3rd team by other groups. He is a good college QB that has not delivered in big games. Little interesting that this year they are more excited about the bowl. Wow last year in CU's first BCS bowl was less exciting than the Chick.

33dtb writes:

in response to michtiger:

This is what bothers me about our coaching staff. Morris is talking Boyd as a first rounder this year or next. That is simply blabber. The pro scouts have him 22 of 22 available QB's. He added mobility but still choked in chrunch in only two big games this year with happy feet and rushed throws. His coaches AM was not repeated even on 3rd team by other groups. He is a good college QB that has not delivered in big games. Little interesting that this year they are more excited about the bowl. Wow last year in CU's first BCS bowl was less exciting than the Chick.

..."“He’s an All-American,”".......
An All-American talker.
What we need is a QB that plays as well as Tajh talks, esp in pressure situations.

f8thwlk writes:

What we need is a defense!!!

michtiger writes:

in response to sennmanthetigerfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually there were a lot of ways he could have responded. And in your haste you suggest I suggested that was what I was saying Morris should have said, that is a long stretch of the post. How about stopping with the points Morris made: is maturing, he needs to work on his checks and he has a chance to be a good NFL player. You do not need to suggest he is a first round pick with the data already public about how he is viewed and all of us can point out plenty of AMs who aren't NFL qualified. Silly for you to think anyone suggests trashing a very good player, but the point is praise can be motivating w/o being over the top. Actually Boyd probably knows his current NFL potential.

michtiger writes:

To your last question, try reading the first line of your answer which is the beginning of fifth paragraph from the bottom on the article. now thats a circle that can make you wobbly!! Morris says he is a first rounder and he is going to give him more this spring if he is back and you ask how is that promoting him as a first rounder? The NFL who has him 22 of 22 this year. I hope after next year that changes but when you look at the college QBs coming back he will have to make some big strides. He is a very good QB but an NFL QB looks like Glennon. Sorry you are having a bad day but having followed your posts you make some great points but you also seem to attack any thought that does not fit your opinion. That's a lofty place to be. But lets pull for the Tigers and all enjoy the game and the holidays.

michtiger writes:

in response to sennmanthetigerfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

My post did not get attched to sennmanthetigerfan. last post. its just after his last post

jarheadtiger writes:

First time poster here, but fan for over 30 years. That said, I like Tajh a lot, darn good college QB. Do I think hes the next Peyton Manning, obviously not, but still, hes played better every year and made some good throws for the most part this year. Perfect? No, But his only issue this year was in forcing the ball a few times he shouldnt have. Fact is he was tryuing to make a play, and QB's do that at times. What some people are knocking as poor throws were him trying to make a play. He didnt choke at FSU. He made 4 bad throws the entire game. If we want to knock anything in the FSU and S Car games, quite frankly it was in 1) Kicking off at FSU, shoot, I would have kicked it out of bounds after the first few times they almost killed us. And both games going away from the run. Still, lets stop pointing fingers at this young man, as frankly hes doing id say a good bit better than 90% of the guys we could have lining up behind center.

jarheadtiger writes:

Just to prove I am not wearing the "Orange colored glasses" I AM however concerned about two things. LSU's strengths seems to be our weaker areas. Line play. Their D-Line is what it is, Big, fast, well coached. Very physical and one of the top in the country. Our O line is somewhat better, but still not where it needs to be. Im not going to suggest I have a better game plan than one of the highest paid OC's in the country, but I hope we can get our run game working and pound it to keep the pressure off the pass Pro. The other concern, is lets face it, we got gashed a LOT with the run game this year, and LSU is liek 4 deep in solid backs that pound all game long. I think Venables has a plan for the long term, just not sure if the future is now. That said, Go Tigers, and Bring it to the Peach for us all!

pmoulton121 writes:

Hey we just survived the end of the world lol. We all are Clemson fans and yeah he has room to improve like any quarterback out there. Another year will help him learn to make better decisions and possibly show his full potential. I think he is better than everyone gives him credit for. He did help put us on the map right I think we can all agree. But he is a leader and a play maker I hope he shows everyone that in the bowl game. Merry Christmas to all Go Tigers!!

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