A year ago, Tajh Boyd made things too easy for South Carolina's defense.
The Tigers' then-sophomore quarterback stood in the pocket at Williams-Brice Stadium "like a concrete deer," Chad Morris said Monday.
"We had a quarterback who wasn't running the ball very well," said Morris. "He was hit early and often...he wasn't playing his best ball. He lost his fundamentals, lost his technique, wasn’t moving as well. Therefore he was a sitting target.”
Not any more.
Boyd is leaner, smarter and more confident. He makes the most of his zone-reads, and he's quick to pull down the ball and take off on un-called runs when the situation dictates.
His contributions as a runner have helped Morris' offense hit its record-breaking stride this fall, and his ability to keep the Gamecock defense off balance will be a key to the outcome of Saturday's game.
When Clemson's offensive line provides adequate protection, as it did last week against N.C. State, Boyd has shown that he pick opposing secondaries apart with his pin-point passing.
He comes into the regular-season finale ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring responsibility, with 250 points (passing and rushing) - an average of 22.73 points per game, which edges out West Virginia's Geno Smith for the top spot.
He ranks second nationally in passing efficiency with a 172.73 rating - just behind leader Aaron Murray of Georgia. Boyd has passed for 3,367 yards, is averaging 9.54 yards per passing attempt, and has completed 67.99 percent of his passes.
He ranks seventh in the nation in total offense with 3,833 yards (348.45 per game). He has gained 650 yards on the ground and has 184 yards in sack losses, for a net rushing total of 466 yards.
On Monday, Boyd was named ACC offensive back of the week and Walter Camp national offensive player of the week. He was also eliminated from the competition for the Davey O'Brien Award has the nation's top quarterback, as Ohio State's Braxton Miller, Kansas State's Collin Klein and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel were named as finalists.