Tajh Boyd finding big success with deep passes

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd gets ready to throw to wide receiver Jaron Brown during the fourth quarter at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd gets ready to throw to wide receiver Jaron Brown during the fourth quarter at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Dabo talks Tajh's deep ball

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— Monday, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris raised a few eyebrows, stating that junior quarterback Tajh Boyd “might be more accurate at 35 yards than he is at five yards.”

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it says plenty about Boyd’s arm strength and accuracy.

Through 10 games, Boyd has thrown for 2,941 yards with 28 touchdowns against nine interceptions, completing 68 percent of his passes (within what Morris calls a championship level).

On deep attempts (21-plus yards), he is completing 54.9 percent of his passes (54.9 percent) for 1,047 yards, with 12 touchdowns against four interceptions.

Boyd says he’s fully confident in stepping high and letting it fly.

“There was a lot of work in the offseason, a lot of questions about me throwing the deep ball accurately after last season and I think that’s something you want to work on,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to hit those opportunities. We’ve got plenty of guys who can go out and fly and go get it, so if they’ve got a step, you’ve just got to let the ball ride and they’ll catch up to it. It’s one of those deals where we pride ourselves on taking advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Boyd was “born with a golden arm, and thank God for that,” but also praised Morris and former offensive coordinator Billy Napier for honing his skills. He said Boyd has “a much better understanding” of his delivery.

“That’s where he’s grown the most,” Swinney said. “Not just throwing the deep ball, but throwing to a spot, back-shouldering a ball and reading a coverage. Is it zone man turn? Is the outside stacked? Is he putting it on the hash? All of these things, what we’re doing on a particular play. Mechanically he’s tremendous. He’s really improved.”

Boyd said Morris uses drop nets designed to target where he throws the ball, which also helps with fade passes. Such individual work takes place every day in practice.

Equally important is chemistry. All of Clemson’s scholarship receivers on the current roster are in their second season with Boyd and Morris, meaning they’ve built a rapport and confidence with the current quarterback and system.

“A lot of my stuff is spot throws,” Boyd said. “I trust my guys to hold their width a certain amount and I’m going to throw it here and there. Maybe a guy’s trailing, I throw it back shoulder. I have chemistry with the guys – I know where they’re going to be at and I’m going to put it there. I don’t think there’s been too many times this season where there are miscues when you don’t know where the ball’s going to be. It comes with what we do in the offseason.”

Focus factor: When sophomore receiver and T.L. Hanna product Martavis Bryant caught a 48-yard pass Saturday, it highlighted Bryant’s immense talent, but also his inconsistency. Bryant has eight receptions for 243 yards, with six of them going for 20-plus yards. He averages 30.4 yards per reception, but coaches want more from him.

“He’s as talented as anyone we’ve got, anyone in the country,” Swinney said. “But it’s not just talent. It’s more than that. He’s struggled with consistency, commitment, focus and earning the trust of teammates and coaches.”

Swinney said Bryant must improve his overall focus.

“He’s a fine young man, but he gets distracted like a lot of young people do,” Swinney said. “Football always came pretty easy to him and he’s had to learn to really work here, really compete. He’s gotten humbled a little bit and he’s responded well. The last few weeks, it’s not an accident that he’s playing better.”

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