QB Tajh Boyd listening to in-house critics
CLEMSON — In meetings rooms and between throws this spring, Tajh Boyd has become a favorite target of criticism for offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
“You can’t come out here and keep making rookie mistakes,” Morris yelled out to his starting quarterback across the practice field this spring.
Morris has criticized Boyd in front of the Clemson football team for poor decisions and technique, any misstep it seems is recognized.
“I was talking to (running back) Andre Ellington and I said, ‘I feel like coach (Morris) is always getting on me,’ ” Boyd said. “I was kind of angry. I was kind of frustrated. (Morris) is always critiquing, critiquing, critiquing, and sometimes I hate it. I feel like he’s always getting on me … but at the end of the day, he’s only doing it to push me to be the best player I can be. I’m grateful I have coaches like that.”
Despite coming off one of the finest passing seasons in Clemson history, Boyd has been scrutinized more closely this spring than in his previous two on campus. While the criticisms have seemed too severe at times to Boyd, the critiques are purposeful as the staff is sending a message to the second-year starting quarterback: more is expected.
Dabo Swinney and his staff expect Boyd to emerge as the undisputed leader and chief example-setter on a team with 60 freshmen and sophomores, a far cry from last spring when Boyd had yet to start a college game.
Consistency was the most common word uttered by Swinney after Monday’s scrimmage with Swinney saying the team’s consistency most improve and it must start at the top, with the quarterback.
“If he were a rookie it would be different,” Swinney said. “The standard, the expectation, is higher for him because this is a veteran guy, we need him to be the leader on this football team, to be the most consistent guy on this team. (Consistency) is what we have to have if we are going to take the next step as a program and be a consistent top-10, -15 type of program. … That’s something we still have some room for improvement.”
Boyd was sluggish again Monday throwing two early interceptions in the spring’s second scrimmage before rallying for a final line of 13 of 20 passing for 213 yards.
“He came back (Monday) and responded,” Swinney said. “The last several practices I just don’t think he’s been quite as sharp or focused as he needs to be to be a great quarterback.”
To be a great quarterback Boyd needs to extrapolate his performance of the first eight games of last year when he held a 24-to-3, touchdown-to-interception ratio over an entire season.
Boyd thinks he’s up to the challenge. He said the offense can be even more prolific than it was a year ago despite losing tight end Dwayne Allen and three starting offensive linemen.
“I feel like there are no limits to where we can go,” Boyd said, “same with me personally, I want to break every record here. We just have to keep working, keep pushing.”
Boyd has pushed himself.
The West Zone film rooms are something of a second home. He spent his spring break working with quarterbacks guru George Whitfield in California, working on improving his throwing velocity through better use of his lower body.
What Boyd knows he has to work on is consistency: consistency in decision making, consistency in his energy level, consistency in staying within the offense.
“He’ll have two really good days then a letdown,” Morris said. “He’s trying to do too much. He’s trying to score every play, feeling like all the pressure is on him. All he has to do is not turn the ball over and get the ball to playmakers.
“He’s a veteran now.”
It’s a message he’s received loudly and clearly this spring.