After Clemson’s exciting Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over LSU, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney made a bold statement in his postgame interview on the field. Swinney boisterously said that his team is a “national championship team” although they finished 11-2 and didn’t even play in the ACC Championship game.
The Tigers may have fallen short in 2012 but their 2013 title hopes received a major boost on Wednesday afternoon.
Junior QB Tajh Boyd announced that he is returning for his senior season and will hold off entering the 2013 NFL draft. Boyd, the reigning ACC Player of the Year, made his decision based off of his projected draft position, which was said to be in the third round. He had been quoted saying that he would only leave Clemson early if he were a “top-tier” draft pick and it looks like that won’t happen, at least for another year.
With his return, Clemson will be an instant national title contender and prohibitive favorite to win the ACC. This past year Boyd was the leader of the sixth best scoring offense in the country and he put up huge numbers in their up-tempo scheme. He had his second straight 3,000 yard season, throwing for 3,896 yards, and scored a combined 46 TDs; 36 through the air and ten on the ground. He’s a dual-threat quarterback, he is the perfect fit for Clemson’s style of play and with another year under his belt the Tigers will be almost unstoppable on offense.
Boyd’s ability to run adds another dimension to their offense and it makes opposing defenses respect both the pass and run. He was the second leading rusher for Clemson last season. Breakout star WR DeAndre Hopkins will once again team up with Sammy Watkins to form one of the best receiving duos in the country next season. With Watkins suspended at the start of last season, Boyd formed a solid connection with Hopkins and it turned “Nuke” into one of the premier receivers in the ACC. Boyd is losing one of his favorite targets in TE Brandon Ford but Clemson has the sixth-best TE recruit in the country, Jordan Leggett, coming to Death Valley next season and he will be a suitable replacement.
Clemson’s issue has always been their defense, but if they can even have somewhat of a decent group next season they will have a legitimate shot at a national title. We all know how good their offense is and with Boyd returning for his senior season it will be exciting to see what they have in store for 2013.