No. 3 Tigers cruise past Deacons, 56-7

Tajh Boyd rolls up 380 yards of total offense, throws three TD passes as Clemson improves to 4-0

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd attempts a pass against Wake Forest at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd attempts a pass against Wake Forest at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

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

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"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.

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Comments » 4

clemvol writes:

4th team down and next focus is on Syracuse. The Tigers beat wake forest like they were suppose to. Now that is playing up to expectations of a great team. Enjoy this win but just for a little while. Get you game face on for Syracuse and don't let them stand or get in the way of what needs to happen. As far as offense goes that the way to keep a team guessing on who you are going to throw to and who is going to run the ball. As far as defense goes only to give up 7 points is excellent. Make this next game better than the last. Get on someone and don't let off. Remember every them that you play will come with their "A" game but the Tigers need to come and will come with their "A+" game. Lets keep going Tigers. Bring the "Fire".

rsb8931#286014 writes:

This was a good win for Clemson. But did we do something that was surprising? We should have beaten them badly just like we did. There has been many years Clemson has had a good team and we may lose to Wake or just barely beat them. Finally, we are beating these teams like a number 3 ranked team should. Good game yesterday, but we have another game next Saturday and it isn't going to be played in that hole in the ground we play in better known as Death Valley. I remember Danny saying one time that the field was 100 yards long up there the same is it is here. He was so right and we went to Chapel Hill and beat NC 10 to 8 that year. How many of you remember that game? We played very well yesterday and did what we should have done. Now let's go to New York and do the same.

Bigboots writes:

I remember that UNC game.
The Greenville News reported that the Tigers were
10-8cious (tenacious).
That was way before they turned into a Clemson-bashing rag.
Before they hired bart wright and I cancelled my subscription.

ter7334 writes:

I remember the 10-8 win over UNC. That was my last semester before graduation, and couldn't go to the game, but watched every minute of it.

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