CLEMSON -- Where is my quarterback?
That's what Clemson coach Dabo Swinney wondered when he saw Tajh Boyd overwhelmed in his first career start against Troy on Sept 3. Where was the player who confidently rifled passes around the practice fields in August?
That's what Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris thought as he tried to track down Boyd on the sideline during No. 21 Clemson's win against Auburn last week.
Two weeks earlier Morris said he found Boyd with a "glazed over" look on the sideline. Against Auburn,
Morris found Boyd talking to receivers, running backs and even rallying the defense on the sideline, displaying dramatic strides of leadership in addition to completing 30 of 42 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns against Auburn.
But Boyd's test is hardly complete. Boyd now faces the greatest challenge of his young career today against No. 11 Florida State, who bring the nation's fifth-rated defense to Memorial Stadium.
"If (Boyd) keeps playing like he's been playing we're going to be a tough team," Swinney said.
"To see where he is mentally and physically since he's got here ... I'm really proud of his leadership. He loves to play. He likes the preparation part of it. He works."
Like most college football fans, Boyd was eager to watch last weekend's Florida State-Oklahoma primetime meeting. Thanks to a noon start against Auburn, he was able to watch the game live at his parents' home in Seneca.
But unlike most observers, Boyd had a vested interested in the game, namely his survival.
The Florida State defensive line that slowed Heisman hopeful quarterback Landry Jones last weekend -- Jones was intercepted twice -- is one of the best in the country and will be zeroing in on the Clemson sophomore today.
"I've started watching (games) more from a quarterback standpoint especially against teams we are playing," Boyd said. "While watching (Florida State) I'm thinking I'm going to play (the blitz) like this ... in any game I watch, I see what other guys are doing and try to take something from them."
What Boyd could take from Jones is this: get rid of the ball quickly.
The Florida State defensive line is led by talented ends in Brandon Jenkins, who was second in the ACC last season with 13.5 sacks, and Germany native Bjoern Verner, who lived in the Oklahoma backfield last weekend, registering six tackles, two for loss, and a sack.
The Seminoles lead the ACC in total defense, allowing 195 yards per game. The group is so talented, Swinney said it quickly sobered him from the high of beating Auburn.
"It doesn't take long to realize how good these guys are on defensive," Swinney said. "Their D-line is typical Florida State ... This is a big, big challenge for us offensively. Biggest one we've had."