CLEMSON -- Clemson finds itself in a delicate balancing act, weighing the interests of the remainder of this season while also beginning to groom its quarterback of the future.
On one hand, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday there is no quarterback controversy and the Tigers will continue focusing all efforts on winning this season.
On the other hand, Swinney said backup quarterback Tajh Boyd will play throughout the rest of the season, saying his development is critical. Swinney said Boyd will play in spots behind starter Kyle Parker.
"He is a guy we need to play," Swinney said, referring to his redshirt freshman quarterback. "The remainder of the season you can expect to see him playing. We've got to get him in there to continue developing him. … I'm so excited about the future with Tajh and I'm excited about the weapons we have around him."
While Swinney is excited about the future, he says Parker gives the Tigers the best chance to win in the present. The Tigers are precariously close to mathematical elimination in the ACC
Atlantic, but there are still a number of things to play for, including bowl eligibility and recruiting interests.
Still, could Swinney foresee a scenario in which Boyd starts this season?
"The only way I could see (Boyd) starting is if Kyle Parker goes in the tank," Swinney said. "I'd be shocked if that happened."
The emergence of Boyd is in part due to his performance at practice, in part due to Parker's poor play at Boston College, and in part readying him for 2011.
Next season, Boyd is expected to be atop the quarterback depth chart, with the only other quarterbacks likely to be true freshmen Tony McNeal, Cole Stoudt and walk-on Donny McElveen.
Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier said Boyd has made major strides.
"One of the things that has happened the last two or three weeks is our backup quarterback (Boyd) has done a great job at practice and in preparation, and I think he's really developed," Napier said. "He is a great leader. He has gained the respect of our staff and teammates. The other part of the equation is Kyle didn't play well against Boston College."
At Boston College, Parker threw two critical fourth quarter interceptions. Earlier this season, the staff was one poor series away from pulling Parker against Miami, when Parker threw three interceptions.
"If (Parker) plays and makes decisions like he did Saturday, we have to do what's in the best interest of the team and hold him accountable," Napier said. "What we saw Saturday was a guy that was trying to freelance a little bit and play outside the parameters of the offense. He tried to shoulder the burden when things weren't going well."
Parker has missed departed skill players C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford and has yet to develop chemistry with Clemson's young receivers. Parker's efficiency rating has dropped from 124 last season to 110 this fall. Parker compared the season to his sophomore decline as a baseball player in 2009.
"I know what I am capable of doing, I know how I am capable of playing," Parker said. "The tricky thing is to get (everyone) to come together so we can play well. When that happens, individually, my performance will get better."
Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen said the team still believes in Parker, noting he's the same player who led the Tigers to a six-game winning streak last season. But Allen also said Boyd has made major strides.
"He looks like a totally different guy," Allen said of Boyd. "At the beginning of the season, if someone asked me 'What if we had to go to Tajh right now?' I'd be like, 'man, we'd be really run-heavy then.' But Tajh has made major strides. I'm confident if something happens he can go in and get the job done."
Check out the Clemson blog at postandcourier.com/blogs/tiger_tracks and follow Travis Sawchik on Twitter (@travis_sawchik).