WHO: Boston College (3-2, 1-1 ACC) at No. 3 Clemson (5-0, 3-0)
WHEN: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
TV: ABC, ESPN2 or ESPNU
Line: Clemson by 24.5
CLEMSON — Jimbo Fisher’s mind hasn’t changed about Tajh Boyd as he goes about his senior year.
“Same thing I’ve seen the last three years, except he’s getting better,” Florida State’s Fisher said of Clemson’s Boyd. “That daggum guy’s strong, he’s elusive, and he makes all the throws. He’s a leader, returning (ACC) player of the year.
“The guy’s an outstanding player, and more importantly, when I’ve gotten to meet him, I’ve been very impressed with who he is as a human being. Very classy guy.”
Florida State’s got its own star quarterback, just not as far along in his career. Freshman Jameis Winston, already a three-time ACC Rookie of the Week, was nominated the National Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Foundation and Athlon Sports for leading No. 6 FSU’s 63-0 trampling over Maryland Saturday.
The ACC’s official web site is already promoting the titanic showdown at Death Valley on Oct. 19, posting a video of Boyd and Winston highlights as if they were competing quarterbacks in a video game.
“It’ll be a storyline, but they don’t play against each other,” Fisher countered. “What Jameis has to do is manage the game, run our team, put our team in position to score points, and be successful. It’s not about him against Tajh; it’s him against the other defense and what we have to do within our own selves.”
Florida State, which shares an identical 5-0 record (3-0 ACC) with third-ranked Clemson, is idle Saturday, and thus gets an extra week to prepare for the Tigers.
“We’re practicing a lot of good-on-good. It’s not just against your scout team guys; you’re playing against the speed of the game,” Fisher said. “Nothing ever simulates like a game, but you’ve got to do the best you can. We’ll definitely have our hands full.”
Freshman offensive tackle Patrick DeStefano, who announced Wednesday night that his playing career is over due to chronic neck and shoulder injuries, is taking this week away from football to collect his thoughts and emotions.
Then DeStefano plans to return to the squad in a teaching, off-field, non-contact role.
“He’ll be back, and he’ll still make a great contribution to our team,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I promise you, that guy brings intensity and focus to whatever he does, and he’ll be a great student-coach for us and turn out to be something special away from football.”
Swinney added: “We don’t have anybody on this team more committed to being a great football player and more committed to doing it our way than Stef.”
The State of Hot Rod
Fifteen different Tigers have scored a total of 30 touchdowns this year.
Starting running back Roderick McDowell is not among them.
McDowell has missed time due to a concussion and an ankle injury, yet ranks second on the team both in all-purpose yards and total offense. He’s averaging 4.9 yards a carry (as is his backup, Zac Brooks), but has just 162 rushing yards since his 132-yard effort in the Georgia opener.
“He’s still effective, and he brings such great leadership to our football team. He’s fully committed, fully focused,” Swinney said. “Having a heck of a year for us. He’s had a couple of games where he runs pretty violent. He’s had a couple games where he’s been banged up, but that’s the nature of that position.
“We’re going to need him to be good for us this weekend and the rest of the year.”
Swinney’s running out of ways to commend junior cornerback Martin Jenkins for his toughness. The latest injury of the oft-hurt Jenkins is a broken thumb, but he’ll play this Saturday against Boston College with a cast over his right wrist.
“That guy there is superhuman,” Swinney said. “I’m telling you, he had surgery on Monday, he’s back out there (Wednesday) with a big ol’ club hand and still trying to intercept balls.”
Break glass if needed
Freshman safety Jayron Kearse will start in place of Travis Blanks, who expects to dress with a knee injury but might not take the field Saturday unless absolutely necessary. The Tigers are 24-point favorites over Boston College.
“He’s going to be available to play. Where we are with him is we’re going to play him if we have to,” Swinney said. “The game’s going to probably dictate if or how much he plays. We’d like to be able to hold him if we could.”
Blanks has 17 tackles this year, just one more than Kearse has recorded despite playing nearly double the snaps (230 to 119.)
Follow Aaron Brenner on Twitter at @Aaron_Brenner
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