As Clemson prepares for its Atlantic Division matchup against Florida State on Saturday, it does so with the advantage at quarterback -- at least on paper. Tajh Boyd is off to a record breaking pace as he has completed 68 of 101 passes for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has thrown just one interception and has averaged 303.7 yards per game. His passing-efficiency rating is 173.79, second best in the ACC and ninth best in the nation, and he is 13th in the country in total offense with 315.67 yards per game. His 10 touchdown passes rank third in the nation.
Boyd has now won the first three starts of his Clemson career and is the first Tiger quarterback to do that since Cullen Harper won his first four games in 2007. I spoke with Boyd on Monday about his impressive start and what lies ahead on Saturday. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
How much more comfortable do you feel since the opener against Troy?
Tajh Boyd: I feel really comfortable. I kind of wanted to take that second half and transition it into the season. I’m feeling really comfortable with the guys, and the offensive line did an incredible job. It’s been fun.
How did you handle the win against Auburn? How do you not get carried away with the upset?
TB: I think it was a really good win, especially for the university and a morale boost for everyone, the fans, things of that nature, but we haven’t even hit ACC play yet. We understand that as a team. Hopefully that win will propel us into ACC play and kind of be a similar situation to what Auburn did last year. We’re definitely excited about this weekend and we’ll be prepared for it.
Where did you watch the Florida State-Oklahoma game?
TB: I watched it at my parents’ for a while, and then went on back to where I live and watched it with some of my teammates. It was on again this morning (Monday). We sat down and watched it for about 45 minutes. We were just talking about the overview of it.
So what’s your take on them?
TB: Really solid team. Offense, they’ve got some guys who can fly. Defensively, they’ve got a stout defense. Big defensive linemen, their linebackers are huge. Vince Williams, solid secondary with [Xavier] Rhodes and those guys. It’s should be fun, definitely a challenge, but we’ve got some good guys on offense as well, so it should be a fun matchup.
Is this game bigger than the Auburn game?
TB: Yeah, definitely. It’s the next big game. It’s an ACC game. We’ve got hopes of winning the conference championship and they do as well, so it’s definitely a big game.
Not to put too much pressure on you, but do you realize this game could decide the Atlantic Division?
TB: Right, right. We see that, too, as a team, and have to keep preparing for it. This has to be a huge week for us. Everybody has to stay mentally focused, make sure everybody is physically together, get treatment if you have to, and just take it from there. Coach has been doing a great job of that, so we just have to take it from there.
Do you feel like you guys are ready for it?
TB: I guess only time will tell, really. I’m definitely excited about it, and it’s great because it’s a home game as well. You’ve got Virginia Tech our first road game after that, so it’s been good playing at home these first few games. It could be to our advantage, but at the same time we have to execute as well.
What’s it feel like to be 3-0 as a first-time starting quarterback?
TB: It feels really good. Winning has been a part of my life from Pop Warner through high school. Hopefully we can continue it.
What’s still missing for you guys? What has to be fixed before you line up against Florida State, if anything?
TB: Just little things here and there, communication. We want to eliminate any and all penalties if possible, anything that takes yards from us. And we’ve started off the games kind of slow every week. We might have a few three and outs. We want to come out on fire. That’s what we’re striving to do. Lately we’ve been a really great second-half team. We’re still trying to find that complete game from an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint.
Is there anything to explain the slow starts?
TB: Not really. Attention to detail, I think.
It wasn’t convincing wins against Troy or Wofford. From the outside looking in I’d think people might have expected you guys to handle them a little bit easier. Do you feel like the win over Auburn silenced any doubts and put you guys where you want to be?
TB: We’re starting to find our identity as a team. One thing I do know about these guys, we won’t ever quit as a team or back down. That’s the most positive thing I would say I’ve seen.