2013 Forecast: Tajh Boyd has trips to NYC, Pasadena in mind for final campaign

Tajh Boyd passes downfield  in the second quarter against Maryland

Photo by Mark Crammer

Tajh Boyd passes downfield in the second quarter against Maryland

Tajh Boyd had a really, really good 2012 season.

The Hampton, Va. product set conference records in points in a game (48) and a season (278), total touchdowns by game (8) and a season (46), passing touchdowns (36) – leading the nation in 25-plus yard passes as well (48) en route to an ACC Player of the Year honor.

Tajh Boyd has had a really, really great career too.

He, with a year left, already owns the school record for touchdowns (89) and is a below average season for the numbers to cruise to the conference marks in scores overall (23) and passing (22). Boyd has the best (428) and eight more of the top-11 single-game Clemson passing performances.

What’s left? Plenty.

Of course, the big prize – outside of a first national title since ’81 and being the first Tiger QB to win multiple ACC titles since Rodney Williams (1988) – is capturing the school’s first Heisman Trophy. The rising senior is also chasing Williams in career wins at Clemson, holding a 21-6 record, needing at least 11 to tie for the all-time mark (32).

With even a marginally better season than last, he’ll certainly be in the running for both.

Last year, Boyd was a TD short of Heisman winner Johnny Manziel’s total (47), while besting him in passing efficiency (165.6-149.3), passing yards per game (299.7-285.1), passing TDs (36-26) and yards per pass attempt (9.1-8.5).

He left 2012 just 180 yards from the ACC record for total offense (Philip Rivers, 2003 – 4,600), but still has a ways to go to reach the single-season passing mark (Matt Ryan, 2007 – 4,507).

A look at the last two years…

2011: 997 snaps – 59.7 cmp% - 3,828 passing yards (273.42 per game) – 33 TD/12 INT – 218 rushing yards/5 TDs – 38 total TDs

2012: 959 snaps – 67.2 cmp% - 3,896 PY (299.69 per game) – 36 TD/13 INT – 514 RY/10 TDs – 46 total TDs

The season-to-season rushing total stands out, along with upping his average in passing yards by 26 a game.

Remember, Boyd had one less game in 2012 and increased his rushing yard total by almost 300 yards. He ran more, 44 attempts (NCAA also counts sacks), averaging 1.3 more yards per carry (2.8).

The Tigers starter averaged 4.1 yards per snap in a near 1,000 snap 2011 season – and upped that by a half yard (4.6) last year.

Boyd, among players averaging 30-plus pass attempts nationally, finished third in yards per attempt (9.1) last season. Georgia’s Aaron Murray led the nation in the stat overall (10.1), on 28 attempts per game.

Projection - Brandon Rink (O&W)

Breakout Season: 70 cmp% - 4,400 PY (314 per game) – 42 TD/7 INT - 670 RY/10 TD – 52 total TD

Bust: 61 cmp% - 3,400 PY (261 per game) – 28 TD/16 INT – 450 RY/6 TD - 34 total TD

2013 Outlook: 66.5 cmp% - 4,100 PY (293 per game) - 35 TDs/10 INT – 610 RY/9 TDs – 44 TD

A good season – the expected season – goes 14 games, whether ACC champs or not by the end of it. The spot in Charlotte is the expectation.

With that extra game and Boyd’s overall improvement, he again should shatter a set of Clemson and ACC records, but just how good is his year? A few projection ideas…

1. Rushing yards up, slightly – Passing as much as he did, with sacks counting against him in NCAA stats, averaging 2.8 yards per carry last season was pretty stout – and he took a beating for it from defenses. Boyd has told reporters he wants more from his running game, but I get the feeling the ceiling isn’t much all that much higher balancing his rushing impact and picking apart defenses through the air. He is a passer-first, and as we saw last year, more than capable of escaping the pocket for a key first down.

2. Passing yards per game down, slightly – There are a few factors to it going down this season. First, last season was really good, and he’s losing the sure-handed DeAndre Hopkins, who accounted for 88 yards per game over the last two seasons. The gap won’t be too wide, but it will show up in some games. Second, the schedule is a bit easier this year, and while Heisman numbers will be in mind, can’t imagine Chad Morris and co. will be risking injury in the two FCS games on the schedule this season. Games against Wake Forest and BC at home also make you think Cole Stoudt will make an appearance.

3. That said, expect the long-awaited seat in NYC – We’ve already looked at the Manziel example…Boyd can do that. How about RGIII? In 2011, Baylor's Robert Griffin III accounted for 5,007 yards (4,293 passing) and 47 touchdowns – averaging 10.7 yards per pass and rushing for 699 yards en route to taking home the trophy. We’re looking at an ACC record 4,700-plus yards and 44 touchdowns for the Clemson senior (In our breakout example, Boyd would top almost all of RGIII’s numbers). Despite Manziel’s youth movement, senior QBs are often rewarded with the trip after big seasons. Ten quarterbacks have been Heisman finalists over the last four seasons – five have been seniors, three juniors, one sophomore and one freshman. Another standout year and he’s there – a great season and he’s coming home with some history-making hardware.

Projection - Marty Coleman (SeldomUsedReserve.com)

When I began the process of estimating Tajh Boyd’s stats for the coming season I noticed that he improved significantly from his breakout season of 2011 to 2012. Boyd’s completion % was up 7.5%, he had more yards (in less games), more touchdowns (in less games), more yards per attempt, more yards per completion, higher touchdown percentage and a higher efficiency.

The natural tendency is to believe these numbers will increase again this year as Boyd enters his senior season with nearly 2,000 snaps in the Chad Morris offense and the majority of his line and receivers returning.

I’m not so sure for two reasons. First, DeAndre Hopkins is a Houston Texan. Second, Boyd’s health should be of the utmost importance, both for the sake of the team and for the sake of Boyd’s future...Boyd’s numbers will again be spectacular, but take a slight step back from 2012 assuming the Tigers play 13 games as they did last season. If Boyd and the Tigers play 14 games, 4,000 yards is possible. More analysis here.

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