Clemson Tigers' Tajh Boyd Struggles on the Big Stage

By B.L. Lippert
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Tajh Boyd has played in a number of big games during his three-year stint as the starting quarterback for the Clemson Tigers. However, Saturday nights matchup with Florida State was without a doubt his most important ever.

Boyd returned to Clemson for his senior year not only to win another ACC title, but also to win a national championship. As a result, Saturday’s game with division rival Florida State was monumental.

Unfortunately for Boyd and the Tigers, he played perhaps the worst game of his career.

The senior quarterback never seemed comfortable against the supremely athletic Seminoles defense. He seemed rattled against the blitz, and really struggled to fit the ball into the small windows that were a product of Florida State’s extremely tight coverage.

Boyd ended the game 17-37 for 156 yards and had three costly turnovers. The biggest play of the game came late in the first quarter with the Tigers already trailing 10-0. Clemson was in the midst of their first real drive, when Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner blitzed Boyd from his right side. After completing a play-action fake, Boyd tried to escape the oncoming Joyner, but instead coughed up the ball, which was returned for a 37-yard touchdown by Mario Edwards Jr.

The surprising aspect of that play was that Joyner wasn’t even disguising the blitz. He had walked up to the line of scrimmage early and gave every indication that he was coming off the edge. Not only did Boyd not check out of the slow developing play, but he also carried out the fake, giving Joyner ample time to get home on the blitz.

Later, Joyner completely fooled Boyd by faking the same blitz. This time, after lining up early, Joyner bailed at the last second, got back in coverage, and intercepted Boyd, who likely thought Joyner was blitzing yet again.

Those two plays were a microcosm of the struggles that Boyd had all night.

There’s no doubt he’s still a tremendous college quarterback, but everyone saw firsthand that the face and future of the ACC was leading the other huddle, Jameis Winston.

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