Last week I suggested that part of the issue with the Clemson offense was that Tajh Boyd wasn’t running as often or as effectively as in the last two seasons. Apparently, someone was listening.
Boyd carried the ball 12 times for 64 yards (not including sacks) and a touchdown against Georgia Tech in the Tigers 55-31 pasting of the Jackets.
But Boyd’s effectiveness as a runner and the impact on the Clemson offense are not solely measured in yards gained, yards per rush for Boyd (5.3 against Tech for non-sacks) or even touchdowns. It’s measured by the flow and pace of the offense, drives extended and what the threat of Boyd running does to a defense.
Boyd: I can call Clemson home
Of Boyd’s 12 rushes, 10 were considered “successful” plays. By successful I mean they gained 40% or more of the yards needed on first down (or scored a touchdown), 50% of yards needed on second down (or a touchdown), or gained a first down or touchdown on third or fourth down.
One of those unsuccessful plays was on the first drive that ended with a Chandler Catanzaro field goal when Boyd lost a yard on 3rd and 4. The other unsuccessful play was a third and 1 where Boyd was stuffed for no gain, but Boyd did convert on fourth down gaining two yards to extend the drive and then hitting Sammy Watkins for a 41 yard touchdown pass on the next play.
Those were the only two non-successful runs of the night for Boyd out of 12 non-sack rushes. In every other instance Boyd was successful whether that meant gaining 9 yards on 2nd and 10, 3 yards on 3rd and 1, or 12 yards on 2nd and 20.
The offense looked crisper and more efficient with Boyd running often and effectively, racking up 556 yards and an 8.3 yard per play average against a Tech defense that came in 12th nationally.
Clemson efficiency (through 10 games)
This week the scenario is massively different as the Tigers and Boyd play their final game of the season in Death Valley. It’s a non-conference game against a FCS foe, with arch rival South Carolina looming next week.
The Tigers most likely won’t need Boyd’s running ability this week and conventional wisdom says don’t run him unless you need to. Don’t risk injury and make sure he is ready for the rivalry game on November 30th.
On the other hand, the Tigers need to run their normal offense and Chad Morris has said many times that the quarterback running the ball is a huge part of that offense and we just saw how effortlessly this team can move the ball when the quarterback is a threat.
Tajh Boyd passing by down
I don’t expect Boyd to carry the ball 12 times on Saturday. Perhaps he picks and chooses his spots or limits designed runs to 3rd and 4th and 1. But I do expect him to run some. That’s the Clemson offense.
Teams are most likely to get in trouble when they try to do something they don’t usually do and that’s when players tend to get injured, too.
Run your normal offense, Tigers. Get a comfortable lead and hopefully sometime early in the second half you’ll be in a position to call a timeout and let Tajh Boyd jog off the field for the final time to the standing ovation he deserves because this is not just Boyd's last game of the season in Death Valley - it’s the last time Boyd will be on Frank Howard Field in a Clemson uniform.