Swinney says Clemson D, 'Catman' gave Tajh Boyd a winning chance

'We just kept getting stops and giving the ball to No. 10. And when you do that, eventually he's going to find a way to win'

Clemson's Tajh Boyd throws a 30-yard touchdown pass to receiver Martavis Bryant during the third quarter at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Tajh Boyd throws a 30-yard touchdown pass to receiver Martavis Bryant during the third quarter at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Take No. 10, throw in a string of defensive stops and a bit of Catman for good measure, and Dabo Swinney believes his Tigers can find a winning combination - even on nights when they're less than their best.

Such was the case Thursday, as No. 3 Clemson pushed through against N.C. State and returned to the Upstate with 26-14 victory.

"At the end of the day, Tajh was 24-of-37 and threw three touchdowns," Swinney said. "He may have a little time (off) here or there, but he usually gets it going."

Boyd struggled early, as he was chased and harassed on the Tigers' first two offensive series and then ended up badly missing on seemingly sure-bet touchdown throws to wide-open Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant.

With Boyd's demeanor on the sideline screaming 'frustration,' Swinney took his senior quarterback aside for some words of encouragement.

After breaking through with a touchdown pass to Sam Cooper late in the first half, Boyd settled in and found his rhythm as his defense kept giving him chance after chance.

"We ended up over 50 percent on third down, which was a difference in the game," said Swinney. "And then defensively, they were only 3-of-16. That was the difference in the ball game - we just kept getting stops and giving the ball to No. 10. And when you do that, eventually he's going to find a way to win."

"That was probably the best defensive performance that I’ve seen here in awhile, in a long time since I’ve been here,” Boyd said.

Boyd said he wasn't perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but that he never sensed the Tigers were on the verge of 'Clemson-ing,' despite the game-long taunts of the Wolfpack crowd.

“I think that a lot of people were looking for us to come in and have a letdown game or ‘Clemson-ing," Boyd said. "I’m confident in the type of team we have. I’m confident in the type of players we have. The coaching staff does a great job.

"It wasn’t perfect by any means and it wasn’t pretty by any means, but you’ve got to love going on the road and getting a win.”

Swinney noted that with Chandler Catanzaro waiting in the bullpen, Boyd has some margin of error for a slow start.

"When you've got a kicker like Cat-man, your quarterback has got to manage the game for you," Swinney said. "If we don't get a touchdown, we've still got the opportunity to put points on the board. Those two field goals he made tonight were huge."

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