CLEMSON — Two things you won’t see Tajh Boyd doing in the aftermath of producing five touchdowns in Clemson’s 38-35 victory over Georgia: putting pen to paper or checking airline fares.
Even though a number of prognosticating websites have christened Boyd the early favorite to take home the 2013 Heisman Trophy, Clemson’s quarterback understands there are many, many battles to win before he starts thinking that way.
“If that happens in November, towards December, I’ll start writing a speech,” Boyd said, with a smile. “But for right now, I’m good, I’m good. Just continuing to try to lead the guys right now.”
Boyd was names ACC Offensive Back of the Week, completing 18 of 30 passes for 270 yards and three scores, while rushing for 42 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Good start. That’s all it is.
“You’ve got to go out there perform every week at a high level,” Boyd said. “Coach (Chad) Morris prides himself on coaching me that way, and that’s the expectation around here.”
However, Boyd does have a request if Clemson begins promoting him as a Heisman candidate, similar to how running back C.J. Spiller was marketed in 2009.
“I would’ve liked a poster,” Boyd said. “I got my own poster in my room. I made it myself.”
Boyd wasn’t the only one making light-hearted jokes regarding his early candidacy to strike a pose.
“If they’re going to announce the Heisman this weekend, then he’s got a good shot,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I need to hurry up and get my tux for New York. I can’t wait.”
Then, Swinney got serious: “Potential is based on what you can do. It’s great to recognize potential, but that’s really all it means: you have the ability to do something great. Performance is based on what you actually do.”
Boyd’s never looked more proud of setting a Clemson record than he did Tuesday.
With his second appearance at the podium in Clemson’s football auditorium — usually, only Swinney’s interviewed in this format — Boyd surpassed Will Merritt for most player press conferences in unofficial team history.
And Boyd, ever the big kid in a candy store, had a promise for his next step in the spotlight.
“Biggest record I’ve broke thus far,” Boyd said. “I’m gonna bring the suit next week.”
Besides Boyd, the ACC honored three Tigers for their effort vs. Georgia: receiver of the week Sammy Watkins (six catches, 127 yards, a career-long 77-yard touchdown), linebacker of the week Spencer Shuey (18 tackles); and co-offensive lineman of the week Ryan Norton.
It is already the junior Watkins’ fifth such honor from the ACC in his career. Shuey is the program’s first linebacker to be honored since Jonathan Willard on Oct. 3, 2011, against Virginia Tech.
“It’s about time,” said second-year defensive coordinator Brent Venables, whose position group is linebackers. “Clemson should have linebackers that are recognized as among the nation’s best, let alone the conference. That’s my expectation, and I think that will continue to enhance that image.”
Venables’ expectation of Shuey at weakside linebacker was reinforced by the award.
“This is a system that when Spencer leaves, I can get a circus monkey in there and he’ll have 125 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 8 to 10 sacks,” Venables said. “It’s a system that linebackers should really flourish in, but nothing taken from Spencer.”
Rounding out the quartet, there might not be a more encouraging honoree than Norton, the only new starter along the offensive line. The sophomore center played 78 of 79 snaps — limping off once with an injury, followed by Zac Brooks’ 31-yard TD reception — and earned the team’s highest offensive line grade of 91 points, helped by four knockdowns.
The decision just got a lot easier on whether freshman running back Tyshon Dye plays or watches in 2013.
A second opinion on Dye’s lower back injury wasn’t optimistic. Doctors want to avoid surgery, which would come with 3 to 4 months of rehab, so they’re continuing to apply epidurals and will re-assess his status in four weeks.
By then, it’ll be midseason, so it wouldn’t make much sense to hold out hope for Dye to contribute this year. Swinney confirmed unless Clemson undergoes a nasty rash of running back injuries late in the season, Dye will redshirt.
As for other true freshmen, cornerback Mackensie Alexander (groin) and tight end Jordan Leggett (knee) are expected to make their Clemson debuts this Saturday against South Carolina State. Alexander could add much-needed depth to Clemson’s secondary.
“We can ease him in there,” Venables said. “That’s what our plan is, and that’s of course what’s going to happen this week, knock on wood.”
Alexander starting with a much softer matchup than the Tigers faced in their opening week doesn’t matter much, in Venables’ view.
“That kid don’t care,” Venables said. “I wouldn’t be scared because he’s got the right demeanor for it, and he doesn’t care who he’s going up against. He’s mature beyond his years in those ways.”
Tight end Sam Cooper, who tore his ACL in the spring game, is listed as questionable. So are defensive backs Jayron Kearse and Martin Jenkins, nursing shoulder injuries.
Offensive lineman Joe Gore (knee) and defensive tackle Scott Pagano (ankle) have been ruled out for the weekend.
Remarkably, third-string quarterback Chad Kelly, who tore his ACL in the spring game and was listed as probable for last week’s game, is no longer even named on the list. Considering the Tigers are expected to put the game out of reach by halftime, Kelly’s a realistic candidate to play.