CLEMSON – You know, Tajh Boyd seems to be just fine.
Boyd bounces back versus Wake
Clemson QB throws for 311 yards, 3 ...
Boyd – after fielding question after question about a sluggish start – was his old self and more versus the Deacs Saturday.
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris was confident that all his third-year starting quarterback needed was one big early play. Two plays in and one Boyd throw to Sammy Watkins later – a 64-yard touchdown connection had him well on the way.
“‘I got it. I feel it,’” Morris recalled Boyd telling him after the pass.
On the day, the Hampton, Va. native effortlessly carved up Wake Forest for 311 passing yards and three touchdowns. He led the Tigers’ run effort as well with 17 carries for 69 yards and another score.
Boyd says he had let the season’s stress get to him, but once he got it going versus the Deacs, he was able to execute at a high level.
“The biggest thing for me is I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself,” he said, “because you want to go out there and prove the things other people put on yourself. It was a fun game today. I got a chance to go out there and smile a lot. I just got to love every time I get to go out there.”
Earlier this week, his offensive coordinator pointed to play No. 59 of the N.C. State game as his senior QB’s turning point – and it’s hard to disagree.
Since that third quarter series, he’s averaged 13.7 yards per attempt, with 410 passing yards and five passing scores.
Milestones aplenty went down during the course of the effort Saturday.
In the first half, Boyd surpassed the Clemson career mark for total offense and hit the century mark on touchdowns on the same play. He finished the day at 9,971 career total yards and 102 touchdowns.
He moved into second place all-time in touchdown responsibility in the ACC and wins as a Clemson quarterback (25).
Since taking over as a starter, he has totaled the most games (11) of two touchdown passes plus one rushing score of any FBS quarterback in that span.
Just against Wake Forest, Boyd surpassed the Clemson record for the most yards versus any team – 1,255 – which was previously held by Woody Dantzler (1,127 versus N.C. State).
By the third quarter, Boyd hit the school mark for passes without an interception, in which he hasn’t thrown one in his last 166 attempts. He says if he has to pick a favorite Clemson record – that would be it.
“By far, that’s my favorite one,” Boyd said. “No disrespect to any other accomplishments, but the biggest thing is to execute the offense and win the turnover margin every game. We win the turnover margin and we have a chance to win the game.”
Watkins touchdown sparked Tigers offense
Slow starts marked not only Boyd’s play but also the entire Clemson offensive outfit with him this season – until Saturday.
The Tigers scored three touchdowns in just under the game’s first seven and a half minutes (7:28), which was Clemson’s quickest scoring barrage to start a game since last season against N.C. State (7:29).
“We just came out there ready to play today,” Watkins said. “Coaches pushed us hard this week in practice and we thought that the Wake Forest defense was pretty good and we just approached the game like we were the best offense on the field.”
The Tigers averaged 14.1 yards per play, and were helped by a dominant defense, which held the Deacs to 3.6 a play in their two possessions during the stretch.
The fastest Clemson had put together three offensive scores to start a game this season previously was in 26:09 (Georgia).
Two of college football’s top go-to targets were on display in the matchup between junior Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins and senior Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro.
They didn’t disappoint.
Both top-10 active NCAA leaders in catches per game, Watkins totaled six catches for 113 yards and a score, while Campanaro was effectively the entire Demon Deacons’ offense with seven catches for 75 yards.
Coming in, Campanaro led the ACC in catches per game (8.3), while Watkins (6.3) was fourth. Combined they have four touchdown catches this season (two each).
Senior starting running back Rod McDowell left after the third series of the game with an ankle injury. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris says he could have reentered, but McDowell was visibly limping postgame.
Junior cornerback Martin Jenkins had his shoulder pop out in the first half, but Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said postgame he could have returned.
Both starting center Ryan Norton and backup center Jay Guillermo had bouts with sickness and midgame IVs.
Left guard David Beasley was held out after being listed as probable due to an ankle injury sustained at N.C. State last week.
DEACS’ DEATH VALLEY WOES
Wake Forest dropped its seventh consecutive game in Death Valley and have lost 27 of the last 30 trips down to TigerTown.
Clemson upped its second-best all-time win total versus any opponent to 61.
Under Swinney, Clemson is 5-0 against Wake Forest with a 31 point average margin of victory.