Triumphant Tigers breathing sigh of relief after Boyd injury
No. 8 Clemson 36, Boston College 14
CLEMSON — Clemson defeated Boston College, 36-14, on Saturday to remain perfect, but 78,000 fans left Memorial Stadium wondering what they had lost.
As fans dispersed, Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd arrived at the Oconee Medical Center in Seneca for an MRI on his left hip. Like Clemson fans, coach Dabo Swinney said he was 'praying for positive news.'
He got it.
Both the MRI and X-ray images taken of Boyd's hip were negative, fortunate considering the twisting and hyperextension that resulted from Boston College defensive end Max Holloway diving into Boyd's left leg after a third-quarter pass.
The contortion appeared to have the potential to cripple what is shaping up to be a potentially special season as No. 8 Clemson is 6-0 for the ninth time in school history and 3-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. But Boyd avoided a worst-case scenario and is listed as questionable for next weekend's game at Maryland (7 p.m., ESPNU).
Boyd's father, Tim Boyd, told The Post and Courier that his son 'should be fine for next week' at Maryland.
How quickly Boyd heals figures to be the story of the coming week. Winning at Maryland might not be easy with a true freshman quarterback in Cole Stoudt — who completed 6 of 10 passes for 37 yards in relief of Boyd — and some tougher games remaining on Clemson's schedule. Rounding out Clemson's schedule this month: hosting North Carolina on Oct. 22, and traveling to undefeated Georgia Tech on Oct. 29.
Swinney said before the season that depth was his greatest concern, and quarterback depth is particularly thin.
'(Boyd) was walking much better in the locker room after the game,' Swinney said. 'It might just be a deep bruise.'
Boyd is on pace to break numerous school passing records and was headed toward his third 300-yard game before the injury. Boyd's 15 touchdown passes are the sixth-most in school history for a single season, and the sophomore has thrown just two interceptions.
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said Boyd was on pace for a career day as he aggressively attacked the Boston College secondary, completing 5 of 7 passes of 20 yards or more to help Clemson to a 23-7 halftime lead. Boyd completed 16 of 26 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown.
After Boyd exited the game, a pallor afflicted those on the sidelines and in the Memorial Stadium stands.
'There was a lull,' Swinney said. 'We definitely had a staleness there for a spurt, but they responded.'
If NFL stars Matt Ryan and B.J. Raji were still at Boston College (1-5, 0-3), perhaps the game could have come in doubt, but the Clemson defense limited a second straight opponent to 258 yards of offense.
Boston College did not score after Bobby Swigert caught a 24-yard scoring pass from Chase Rettig to cut the Clemson lead to 26-14 in the third quarter.
'There were a lot of good things in terms of progress we are making,' Tigers defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said.
While the Clemson defense stepped up, so did the running game.
Andre Ellington rushed for a 35-yard touchdown to put the game away in the fourth quarter. Ellington's hamstring looked healthy as he rushed 22 times for 117 yards.
Right tackle Landon Walker said the team did not become scared when Boyd was injured. Said Walker: 'Every now and then (the line) knows we have to put the game on our backs.'
Clemson Scoring Drives
Clemson 7, Boston College 0
Scoring play: Jaron Brown 3 pass from Tajh Boyd (Chandler Catanzaro kick)
Key play: Brown 29 pass from Boyd placing Clemson deep in BC territory
Drive: Eight plays, 80 yards in 2:20
Clemson 10, Boston College 0
Scoring play: Catanzaro 38 kick
Key play: D.J. Howard 14 run on fourth and 1 at BC 41
Drive: Six plays, 63 yards in 4:20
Clemson 17, Boston College 0
Scoring play: Boyd 14 run (Catanzaro kick)
Key play: Malliciah Goodman sack created fumble Clemson recovered at BC 16
Drive: Two plays, 16 yards in :44
Clemson 20, Boston College 0
Scoring play: Catanzaro 42 kick
Key play: Sammy Watkins 20 pass from Boyd to BC 35
Drive: Six plays, 29 yards in 1:21
Clemson 20, Boston College 7
Scoring play: Rolandan Finch 28 run (Quigley kick)
Drive: 10 plays, 80 plays in 5:03
Clemson 23, Boston College 7
Scoring play: Catanzaro 18 field goal
Key play: Watkins 18 pass from Boyd to inside BC 10
Drive: 10 plays, 65 yards in 1:50
Clemson 26, Boston College 7
Scoring play: Catanzaro 20 field goal
Key play: Boyd suffered a left hip injury on a second-and-goal pass
Clemson 26, Boston College 14
Scoring play: Bobby Swigert 24 pass from Chase Rettig (Freese kick)
Key play: Drive was extended by a Clemson rougher the passer penalty on third down
Drive: Six plays, 67 yards in 3:09
Clemson 29, Boston College 14
Scoring play: Catanzaro 46 field goal
Key play: Mike Bellamy took his first carry of day 15 yards to Clemson 35
Drive: Thirteen plays, 50 yards in 4:30
Clemson 36, Boston College 14
Scoring play: Andre Ellington 35 run (Catanzaro kick)
Drive 6 plays, 58 2:11