CLEMSON -- In three days, the wait ends for Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd when he makes his first start at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against Troy.
While the sophomore's apprenticeship has concluded, Boyd's game-day education process is just beginning.
Boyd is focusing on what he says are the five most difficult aspects of playing quarterback.
A premise of offensive coordinator Chad Morris' offense is to stretch the field vertically and horizontally. The deep-corner route accomplishes both, but it's also the most difficult pass in the playbook.
On the deep-corner route, a receiver runs roughly 15 yards downfield and then breaks toward the near sideline at a 45-degree angle. The pass requires timing, accuracy, velocity and a steep trajectory to clear the defender, who is likely to be between the quarterback and the receiver.
"If you have a (defender) on the inside, you have to place it perfectly over his head," Boyd said. "A lot of throws come naturally, but some are tough."
Letting it go
Morris did not like Boyd's body language in the spring. Morris saw
agitation dripping from Boyd after mistakes and saw emotion linger into the next play.
"We'd see it on film, I'd see it on the practice field," Morris said. "One bad play leads to two or three. I really stressed that you've got to go on to the next play."
Learning to play with a short-term memory has been difficult for Boyd.
"I have a tendency to (dwell) on the last play," he said.
Courage in crosshairs
Clemson will take more downfield shots under Morris. This requires the quarterback to remain in the pocket longer, which means defenders have more time to zero in. Kyle Parker first injured his ribs at Auburn last season while waiting in the pocket for a receiver to come open. Moreover, Boyd has taken few hits in practice, wearing a no-contact jersey.
"The toughest thing is when you see that blitz coming and you really don't have an answer for it in the moment sitting there waiting for someone to break open," Boyd said.
The post-snap view
Defensive disguises have become more complex with zone blitzes and complicated coverages. What Boyd sees before the snap Saturday might not be what he sees after the snap.
"Guys are baiting you," Boyd said. "They act like they are coming but they are really not coming. It's you processing 'OK, where do I go with ball now?' Coach is like you can't make impulsive decisions. … Just keep going through reads, don't panic, relax."
Boyd quickly learned playing quarterback was not a 20-hour-a-week job limited to practice and game days. Boyd has responded, leading offseason workouts and living in the film room. Now inseason accountability is required.
"A lot of guys throw the ball real hard," Morris said, "but can you command a presence?"