CLEMSON — Tajh Boyd’s final stat-line versus Maryland last Saturday was just about as solid as any in his career.
It just didn’t feel like it.
Tiger offense taking pressure off Boyd
With a touchdown via both throw and run, he posted a 27th career multi-score game. The senior signal-caller accounted for a 15th 300-yard passing game (304), and much of that thanks to a 16th contest with a 68 or better completion percentage (68.3).
Midgame, he became only the third quarterback in ACC history to surpass 10,000 yards (10,296) and tied for the all-time conference touchdown responsibility mark (112).
“I thought he played well,” Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “He’ll be the first tell you that he missed a few here and there, but the guy went out there and executed.”
Against the Terps, Boyd struggled passing more in the second half (10-of-18 for 111 yards with an interception) than the first (18-of-23 for 183 yards and a touchdown), but the Tigers’ third-year coordinator says his late-game runs — six for 41 and a score — were the difference.
“He ran the ball when he had to run. I was very pleased with his performance,” Morris said.
Still, a noticeable efficiency downturn is evident in Boyd’s numbers, which shows in the eight-game comparison to his record-shattering junior campaign. The yards and scoring production, however, aren’t far behind.
He’s down almost four percent in completion percentage (67.7 to 63.9), over 10 in pass efficiency points (163.9 to 153) and almost half a yard per attempt (9 to 8.53).
The Tiger passing game has increased its throws behind or at the line of scrimmage by over 12 percent (35.8), but Boyd is completing 14 percent less of them this year (78), averaging eight yards per attempt (H/T to Seldom Used Reserve for the stats).
His deep-shot success rate is about the same, hitting one extra pass of 16 or more yards (29) in five more attempts (59), with more one more touchdown (9) and as many picks (2).
Morris says any extra outside pressure Boyd is feeling doesn’t compare to his own.
“No one puts more pressure on themselves than Tajh,” Morris said. “He wants to be perfect in everything he does. My big emphasis to Tajh is, ‘You made the choice to come back. You need to go out and play and have fun and let it work itself out. Everything will work itself out. Smile and play and let’s be Tajh Boyd.’”
That smile has had to share to time with grimaces due to injury lately.
An ankle injury sustained versus Florida State had the Hampton, Va. native hobbled, which changed the Maryland gameplan per Morris, and in the second quarter Saturday, Boyd added a minor knee injury to the mix. He didn’t shy away from contact, however, converting a third downs on the run and scrambling for a game-sealing touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“My body’s somewhat beat-up right now,” Boyd said, “but at the end of the day, it’s (get results) by any means necessary.”
With the game tighter than expected late, the Tiger QB says his unit was more than ready to hold fourth-quarter lead No. 21 in a row.
“That’s what we pride ourselves on,” said Boyd. “We’re a physical team and a tough team. We respond from adversity. You see that in the past and you’re starting to see that now. We had some opportunities early on and didn’t convert as much as we wanted to, but we came out with points.”
Morris says points and plays are the two measures he assesses most, and he’s seeing mixed results so far.
3-year comparison: Clemson offense (Through 8 games)
|Category||'13 Clemson||'12 Clemson||'11 Clemson|
|Scoring Offense||37.4 PPG||41 PPG||32.5 PPG|
|Total Yards||494 YPG||498 YPG||482.5 YPG|
|Cmp. Pct. (Tajh Boyd)||63.9||67.7||61.9|
|Yards Per Pass (Tajh Boyd)||8.53||9||8.6|
|Plays per game||84.3||80.5||78.3|
|Runs of 10+/Passes of 20+||9.3||10.5||9.3|
|3rd Down Pct.||43.3||53||48.5|
|Yards Per Carry||3.9||4.1||4.3|
|Yards Per Play||5.9||6.2||6.2|
Coming off a 98-play effort, Clemson ranks in the top-five in plays per game (84.3), which outpaces the first two years at this point under him by almost four snaps per.
Against Maryland, the Tigers entered the red zone eight times and scored three touchdowns, dropping out of the top-15 to No. 55 in red zone touchdown percentage (65). Clemson had the nation’s top red zone offense last season, missing out on points just twice. They’ve already come away empty six times in eight games in 2013.
"You can dissect it like you want to, but all them yards, they don't mean anything to me," Morris said. "Are we putting points on the board when we had opportunities to put them on the board? That's the No. 1 thing, and the No. 2 and No. 3 and so on. We want every drive to end with a kick and we preach that. If every drive ends with a kick, we're going to win a lot of games.
"Obviously you want more PATs than anything else. Again, we've been really good in red zone offense around here, but for whatever reason, we've come away with some field goals. We have to go back and see the breakdowns in that area."
Through all of the issues these past three games, Morris says they’ve learned some valuable lessons moving forward.
“You can coach for as much as you want,” he said, “but until you get into a true adverse situation, you never find out who and what people are about. We’ve been able to see some adversity these last few weeks and see a lot about them in the next four games.”