CLEMSON — Can Tajh Boyd be better than he was last season? That’s what Clemson’s quarterback has been asked time and again this spring.
Boyd’s career numbersPass YPA Comp. TDs INTs RushYear Yards Pct. Yards2012 3,896 9.1 67.2 36 13 5142011 3,828 7.7 59.7 33 12 2182010 329 5.2 52.4 4 3 332009 redshirt
Boyd set nearly every single-season passing record at Clemson last fall. He was the ACC player of the year. He led Clemson to its second consecutive season of 10-plus victories.
If Boyd somehow exceeds his impressive 2012 numbers, it will likely be because he shares one important characteristic with Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris — both are restless.
While Morris took his staff to visit Arizona State and later entertained the Ohio State offensive staff in Clemson this spring in his never-ending quest of finding new wrinkles for his offense, Boyd spent spring break last week in California working with quarterback guru Georgia Whitfield, just as he did a year ago.
Last spring, Whitfield, who has worked with quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Andrew Luck, focused on having Boyd incorporate his lower body into his throwing motion. The work resulted in improved velocity.
Last week the focus was on accuracy, an area that Boyd believes he can improve. Boyd was responsible for 16 of the team’s 21 turnovers last season, 13 being interceptions.
“I feel like we had a pretty decent season but if I chop down half of those (turnovers), even four of five, who knows what the results would have been,” Boyd said.
And to cut down on turnovers, Boyd said the effort begins in the spring with a focus on fundamentals, which is why he was in California working out twice a day while the vast majority of his teammates where taking a week reprieve from class and football practice.
Whitfield noticed Boyd, a right-handed thrower, would get lazy with his left arm, the guide arm, which is important in establishing accuracy.
“When you are playing basketball you have a guide hand when you shoot,” Boyd said. “It’s the same way in football. Sometimes you can go just wing it (but) now it’s time to take (my left arm) and just drive it. I throw a pretty good ball, a pretty good fastball, but it can come out that much more powerful (and accurate) if I incorporate other parts of my body.”
Boyd improved most of his numbers across the board in 2012. He shed weight and became a dual-threat QB. He completed a higher percentage of passes and he threw for more yards per attempt. But the one blemish was an increased interception percentage.
“It was a lot of good work (with Whitfield),” Boyd said. “For me it was refining, cleaning up small things and being able to correlate that to the football field. … I didn’t want to go into spring break just coasting. I don’t think there is time to coast. In eight months the season is over.”
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney believes in addition to the physical and mechanical improvements, Boyd is also better emotionally equipped as a senior.
“He’s always been a perfectionist but he used to not handle criticism very well; he didn’t handle bad plays very well,” Swinney said, “those are areas where he’s grown tremendously.”
Swinney believes Boyd can get better as a senior, but he’s most concerned with one statistical improvement — more wins. After Boyd told Swinney in January that he was returning for his senior season, Swinney sent Boyd a text telling him he had 21 career wins as a starting quarterback and the Clemson record is 32 by Rodney Williams.
Said Swinney to Boyd: “You do the math.”