Things haven’t gone so well for the Clemson football team this week, but it has been very good for the Tiger’s best player. Last Saturday, Clemson lost to archrival South Carolina at home and the loss all but assured that they would be competing in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl rather than going to the BCS as an at-large team. Technically there is still a chance that the Tigers get the at-large but it is doubtful considering that they are ranked 14th in the polls and they lost both of their high profile games this year.
While the team is down some this week, quarterback Tajh Boyd’s last seven days couldn’t have been much better. Boyd was named an All-American by the AFCA and he was named both the ACC offensive player and overall Player of the Year. Boyd deserved every single one of those honors as he was one of the best quarterbacks in the country this year.
Last year, Boyd became a superstar in the ACC as he led Clemson’s unstoppable offense to an ACC Championship. In 2011 he completed 59.8% of his pass attempts for 3,828 yards, and threw 33 touchdowns (adding another five on the ground). It didn’t appear that there was much room for improvement, yet Boyd had a big leap in production in his second season as the starter. His biggest improvements came in the running game, his decision making and his completion percentage.
In 2011, Boyd was an average runner for a quarterback. He averaged 1.5 yards per carry and ran for a total of 218 yards and the aforementioned five touchdowns. This year he averaged 3.1 yards per carry, running for a total of 492 yards and nine touchdowns.
His decisions as a quarterback also became better this year. His interception totals from the past two years remained fairly consistent. Last year he threw 12 picks and he has a total of 13 this season, but the turnovers don’t tell the whole story. The real story is in his completion percentage. In 2011 he completed 59.8% of his pass attempts but this year he completed 66.6%. Boyd did a better job of going through his progressions this year and dumping it off to his outlet receiver rather than taking a sack or forcing a pass into coverage. That is where Boyd showed his most growth as a passer.
Boyd was by far the best quarterback in the ACC this year and he deserves every postseason award that he receives. He won’t get much love from the Heisman committee because the Tigers aren’t in the SEC and probably will not be heading to a BCS bowl, but if he decides to return for his senior season then he should be at the top of everyone’s Heisman watch list.