FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- When the Orange Bowl kicks off Wednesday night, it will mark a full year of Tajh Boyd having undisputed ownership of Clemson's quarterback position.
Boyd did not split reps in spring practice, there was no QB controversy in summer camp, and Boyd did not have to look over his shoulder during the fall. Boyd took advantage of the opportunity in his first season as the Tigers' starting quarterback and produced a number of single-season program records, including passing yards (3,578) and passing touchdowns (31).
Not bad for a player who had questions to answer after struggling in the spring game and the season opener. And Boyd feels he has plenty of remaining upside. The sophomore is looking at the Orange Bowl as a springboard for even better production in 2012.
"I don't think I'm anywhere near my potential," Boyd said.
The sophomore will try to show what a complete, dual-threat quarterback can mean for the program against No. 23 West Virginia (9-3). With a healthier surrounding cast and with another 15 bowl practices to allow Boyd to build upon his understanding of offensive coordinator Chad Morris' scheme, No. 14 Clemson (10-3) is hoping to see Boyd raise his game at least back to its early season standard when Boyd was performing like a Heisman candidate, not only with his strong, accurate arm but with his legs.
And Clemson especially needs Boyd to be a greater run threat with the team lacking running back depth in Miami.
"Our goal for (Boyd) and for us is to win a national championship, and for him to be the best in the country," Morris said. "Tajh has done a great job, but he is still being pushed. He's got so much potential, and we've still got a long way to go to where we want to be."
One notable puzzle piece still absent is the quarterback run threat. The zone-read option play was expected to be a staple of the offense.
Boyd has not been comfortable running the ball for much of the season, but he did fare well in the ACC title game.
A dual-threat quarterback is required for the Morris offense to operate at full capacity.
What's encouraging for Morris is that Boyd wants to get better. Boyd showed improvement from spring practice to the summer and to the fall. And Boyd now has a chance to improve from a sluggish November after a full December of practice.
"Tajh, he's a pleaser," Morris said. "Tajh is very conscientious about if he thinks I'm upset with him, if he thinks that he had a bad day, if there's a concern that, hey, something isn't right with Coach Morris. He's real conscientious about that. So he's always trying to do something to please, which is great. That's what you want out of your quarterback."
With one year under his belt, Boyd thinks his second year as the starting quarterback should be considerably better.
"It's going to be that much more of a springboard for me in the offseason," Boyd said, "knowing what's going on and knowing the system."
Receiver DeAndre Hopkins ran routes in practice Sunday and is expected to play in the Orange Bowl after he suffered a concussion in an auto accident Tuesday … West Virginia leading rusher Dustin Garrison is out with torn knee ligaments.
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