Clemson's Chad Morris came out of the N.C. State game convinced that his offense had turned a corner; so his challenge to his players this week was simply a logical progression - "pick up where you left off."
Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins provided a third-snap spark with a 64-yard touchdown connection, and the third-ranked Tigers were off and running on a businesslike 56-7 walkover against Wake Forest Saturday at Death Valley.
2013 Tigers could be Swinney's most complete team
"It was a matter of getting into a rhythm and a groove - don't press, just relax and play," said Morris, whose offense rolled up 573 yards and averaged 6.9 yards per play. "All we needed was a spark, and Sammy gave us that."
On his early touchdown connection with Boyd, Watkins ran through flag-drawing contact with Wake Forest cornerback Merrill Noel, and then stayed inbounds as he hauled in Boyd's pass. After that, it was a no-contest footrace.
"Wake Forest is very aggressive on the back side," said Dabo Swinney. "Their corners will try to jump things, so we ran a little double-move to Sammy and he did a good job of running through the collision.
"We scripted it because we thought we had a chance. That was a huge play. And even if you don't hit it, it sends a message."
By midway through the first quarter, Wake Forest had gotten the message, loud and clear.
Boyd never let go of the reins after the early touchdown.
After a three-and-out by the defense, the Tigers reeled off 63-yard, 10-play drive for another score, and on the next possession, Boyd served up a short swing pass that running back D.J. Howard turned into a 75-yard touchdown sprint.
With the first quarter just half done, Clemson led 21-0 and had rolled up 220 yards on 16 plays.
The Tigers' offensive juggernaut experienced a momentary lull, as Clemson went three-and-out the next three times it touched the ball.
For a fleeting moment, the Deacons even threatened to make a game of it.
Senior quarterback Tanner Price went 4-of-5 for 45 yards on a 54-yard scoring drive following a short punt by Clemson's Bradley Pinion, and he delivered a 10-yard touchdown pass when he picked up a corner blitz and found Sherman Ragland open in the vacated area.
Wake's glimmer of hope was short-lived.
Boyd and the Clemson offense went back to work, as the Tigers moved into threatening position via an interference penalty on a deep pass for Watkins, and a 31-yard connection between Boyd and Adam Humphries.
On a fourth-and-one keeper from the two, Boyd bulled into the end zone and the Tigers led 28-7.
The Tigers struck again in the closing seconds of the first half with a 72-yard, two-minute scoring drive. A Boyd-to-Watkins connection for 28 yards got things started, Clemson converted a fourth-and-one with a six-yard keeper by Boyd, and then scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass to freshman Mike Williams, who made a sliding catch in the end zone.
Boyd finished the first half 15-of-18 for 286 yards and three touchdown passes, for a 260.0 passing efficiency rating.
"I thought Tajh played his best game of the season," said Swinney. "He showed a real focus on each and every play to execute.
"Overall, it was our most complete game as a team. Our defense is playing some good football right now, and the offense had a great drive to get themselves back on track."
Clemson continued to build its lead in the third period.
A fumble-causing sack by Stephone Anthony and a recovery by Travis Blanks gave Clemson possession just on the Wake Forest side of midfield, and the Tigers cashed in with a one-yard touchdown run by C.J. Davidson.
Boyd rushed for 31 yards on four carries on the drive, including a 13-yard scramble on a third-and-15 play. He converted the fourth-and-two with a six-yard keeper to set up a first-and-goal at the four. Chandler Catanzaro's PAT pushed the lead to 42-7.
Cole Stoudt came on in relief of Boyd for the Tigers' next drive, with similar results.
He connected with Martavis Bryant for passes of 14 and 15 yards, threw 10 yards to Germone Hopper, and then found freshman tight end Jordan Leggett open in the right corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown.
The Tigers completed their scoring with another Stoudt-directed drive - 56 yards in 12 plays - capped by C.J. Davidson's one-yard touchdown run.
For the game, Boyd finished with 380 yards of total offense - 311 yards passing and 69 yards rushing on 17 carries. Watkins caught six passes for 113 yards, Adam Humphries had six receptions, and Leggett and Daniel Rodriguez each had two. Leggett and Williams each had his first touchdown reception, and Davidson scored his first rushing touchdown.
Boyd went over the 100-mark in career touchdown responsibility, and set a Clemson record for consecutive passes without an interception.
"The coaches weren't worried about Tajh, and neither were any of us," said Watkins. "This is a game of rhythm, and we got our rhythm going against today."
The Tigers did not commit a turnover, and had two second-half takeaways.
"Clemson just made plays," said Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe. "The pace of the game was fast, and they made big plays. We tried to minimize their big plays, but unfortunately they made a lot of them.
"If you're not fundamentally sound against a team like Clemson, it can comes back to bite you. The score shows that."
Now 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the ACC, the Tigers will face their second conference road test next Saturday when they provide the opposition for Syracuse's league opener at the Carrier Dome.