IT’S BEEN TOO LONG …
Clemson University quarterback Tajh Boyd is having another stellar season for the Tiger football team – of that there can be no doubt. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound junior from Hampton, Virginia is leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in passing – racking up an impressive 3,367 yards and 33 touchdowns in leading the No. 11 Tigers to a 10-1 record.
After shedding 20 pounds during the offseason, Boyd has also emerged as a much more potent rushing threat in 2012 – amassing 466 yards and another eight touchdowns on the ground. That’s more than twice the rushing yardage he accumulated through fourteen games last year.
For his exploits, Boyd is now ranked No. 6 on ESPN’s list of Heisman Trophy candidates. In fact were he to turn in another high-octane performance this weekend, there’s a good chance he could wind up on the invite list to the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City next month – in addition to leading his team to a second consecutive Bowl Championship Series (BCS) appearance.
Will that happen though? It’s doubtful …
As was the case in 2011, Boyd has turned in his highlight reel performances against the likes of Boston College, Wake Forest, Duke, Maryland and N.C. State – teams which defend the passing attack sort of like S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley (a Clemson graduate) defends sensitive taxpayer data.
Yeah … “Tweet that.”
So what will happen this weekend when Boyd goes up against the University of South Carolina’s vaunted defense? Gamecock fans are hoping history repeats itself.
A year ago Boyd had the worst game of his career against South Carolina – completing 11 of 29 passes for 83 yards with one touchdown and one interception. That’s abysmal by any standard, but especially for Boyd – who entered the game averaging 295 passing yards per contest.
Boyd was also sacked five times last year by the Gamecocks’ defensive line – which he reportedly referred to as “only average” earlier in the year.
That claim – along with a Tweet mocking former USC quarterback Stephen Garcia and assistant coach G.A. Mangus – clearly fired up the Gamecock defense.
“Y’all need to stop tweeting,” former USC defensive lineman Melvin Ingram reportedly told Boyd after sacking him.
Boyd denied referring to USC’s defensive line as “average” – although he briefly deactivated his Twitter page following the Gamecocks’ 34-13 win.
Ingram is gone this year – playing for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers – but linemen Jadeveon Clowney, Devin Taylor, Byron Jerideau, Chaz Sutton and Kelcy Quarles have been wreaking havoc on Southeastern Conference offenses all season.
Through eleven games, the Gamecock defense has recorded a whopping 35 sacks – eighth-best in the entire country. Leading the way is Clowney, with 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. For his efforts, the 6-foot-6, 256-pound sophomore has been named as a finalist for the Bednarik, Lombardi and Nagurski awards.
Can Clemson’s offensive line slow down Clowney and Co.? Our guess is “no …” but that’s the key match-up to watch for in this weekend’s “Backyard Brawl.” Kickoff for Saturday’s game at Death Valley is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. EST – with ESPN televising the game nationally.