Back To The Future, Part IV: The Good, The Bad, The Noteworthy from Boston College (plus Syracuse preview)

Tajh Boyd

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – It wasn’t a thing of beauty necessarily, but a trip to Chestnut Hill was enough for Clemson to shake off the tough Florida State loss and resume their ultimate roll to 10 regular season wins.

Wanna watch the video? Here it is if you wanna try to follow along.

This is the fourth installment of our new biweekly feature on PostandCourier.com and the TigerTracks blog this summer. I’ll provide a glimpse to the past – evaluating throwback tape from each 2012 game – as well as one into the future, looking ahead to whichever opponent awaits correlating to that game.

This is a way to utilize what we’ve learned about the returning Tigers and how they’ll fit in with the 2013 team, which is why you won’t read a ton of elaboration on guys who are gone (DeAndre Hopkins, Jonathan Willard, etc.)

One way to differentiate you should know: Clemson players will be listed with abbreviated positions and listed in bold. Opposing players will be preceded by full positions and not in bold.

(So: QB Tajh Boyd … quarterback Chase Rettig.)

NO. 17 CLEMSON 45, BOSTON COLLEGE 31 ~ Sept. 29, 2012, ESPN2

Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

The Gamer

The Good

You don’t need to read me gush much more about QB Tajh Boyd, but man, what pocket presence and a delivery downfield. Frustrated by just three points on the first two drives, Boyd fired quick routes more than 10 yards to WR DeAndre Hopkins and TE Brandon Ford before running it in himself from six yards out (amidst five defenders) for a 6-play, 43-yard drive in 2:17. He’s just so much more than a tough runner or impeccable game manager. There’s a reason he’s a top-flight NFL prospect.

After a pass to wide receiver Alex Amidon turned a 3rd-and-18 into a 4th-and-1, a little reprieve is granted Clemson when Boston College inexplicably calls a toss counter. (You need one yard against a bad rush defense and you’re deliberately tossing the ball five yards backwards? This is why Frank Spaziani is no longer employed.) LB Stephone Anthony’s last ditch dive helped, but running back Andre Williams also ran into his own lineman. Oh, BC, you cute and cuddly 2-10 squad, you.

DT Grady Jarrett saved the defense’s bacon when he forced center Andy Gallik to hold him, thus nullifying a 33-yarder right down the middle which would have set up a field goal try to end the first half. Also, left tackle Emmett Cleary was nailed for holding DE Corey Crawford to kill a run around left end. Hey, if you’re not gonna hit the basket, at least draw the foul.

NG DeShawn Williams shoves aside Gallik, gobbling up quarterback Chase Rettig. Wow, did LB Quandon Christian launch out of a cannon after shaking past 77. LB Travis Blanks showed great speed in forcing 26 to the sideline just short of the first. And DB Garry Peters jumped a route to break up a third straight Rettig incomplete pass. All those instances were on third down, forcing a punt. This game was kind of a microcosm of what the Tigers should be and have to be – making plays amidst the inconsistency. But nonetheless, an ACC bottom-feeder scored 31 points.

The rundown: DT Josh Watson ducks two blockers, dives to stop Williams and set up a 3rd and 9. For some reason, BC called a draw, so it was 3 and out, and whatever momentum the Eagles had was gone … the rout was on starting with RB Roderick McDowell’s 16-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-1. RG Tyler Shatley pulled over to the left side and laid a textbook block, and C Dalton Freeman and RT Gifford Timothy held up as well to give McDowell daylight … mid-third quarter, backed up in the teeth of his own end zone … that wasn’t a good throw by Boyd on 3rd-and-7. It was a brilliant throw, off his back foot, while getting hit, for 58 yards to a streaking Hopkins.

The Bad

That opening drive on defense was bad enough – BC systematically drove it down the field anyway – but the actual scoring run, a 30-yarder by Williams? Oof. He just zipped through the right side and a few tacklers completely whiffed – DE Malliciah Goodman, LB Jonathan Willard and Anthony.

Cool play call to toss it back to Boyd out of the Wildcat, but Boyd forced it deep into double coverage on Hopkins. Should have recognized that, but his mind was made up from the start. Do credit the defender, free safety Sean Sylvia, for an incredible interception.

Well, that’s a bummer, the play clock running out on a fake field goal. Not sure why they had P Spencer Benton stand up and pretend to run the Wildcat when there wasn’t enough time.

Without detailing a number of specific plays, we’ll just say this: the former secondary was seasoned, but far too leaky when it didn’t need to be. We’ll see if that’s shored up this coming fall.

The Noteworthy

In WR Sammy Watkins’ absence, Boyd was looking Ford’s way – excuse me, the tight end’s way – a lot.

Good for Boyd squeezing in that 3rd-and-gotta-go throw to Ford on the pylon, but he would’ve made life easier on himself lobbing to WR Charone Peake. Wide open in the back of the end zone.

I’ll opine this not only as an unbiased observer, but also as Boyd’s mythical future agent: Tajh, two tips. Slide. Jog out of bounds. Don’t hurt yourself, because if you go down, Clemson’s goals are markedly different, and then there’s that whole issue of NFL Draft stock.

THREE STARS

3) Third-down defense. Again, Boston College scored 31 points and Rettig looked like Matty Ice for a half. But you hold a team to 5-for-17 on third down on the road, that’s darn good.

2) Tajh Boyd, QB. This is the song that never ends … it just goes on and on my friends …

1) DeAndre Hopkins, WR. His second half: . And that does NOT include a 35-yard haul with his body twisting out of bounds, which was ruled incomplete despite video review showing pretty plainly it was a touchdown. (Apparently if you touch the pylon before touching the ball, you’re out of bounds. Never realized that.) Degree of difficulty on the catch was 8.5, even though nobody was on him. The Texans are going to love him.

*************************

GAME 5: Clemson at Syracuse, Oct. 5, 2013, Carrier Dome

A LOOK AT SYRACUSE

2012 record: 8-5, 5-2 Big East

2012 highlights: The Buffalo Bills were paying attention. Doug Marrone parlayed a 25-25 record in four years – and remember, he was coaching in the weak Big East – into an NFL head coaching job. His quarterback helped; Ryan Nassib fired off 3,749 yards and 26 touchdowns, and the Orange finished 2012 in fine fashion with wins over Louisville (yup), Missouri, Temple and West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Head coach: Scott Shafer, first year … @Coach_Shafer if you’re so inclined.

Returning starters (o/d): 11 (5/6)

Clemson-Syracuse series: Only one previous meeting, and it was NOT pretty. Syracuse 41, Clemson 0 in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day 1996. The Tigers were ranked No. 23, the Orange was unranked and both teams were 8-3 going in. Yikes.

Notes: Nassib started every game from 2010-12. He’s now a pro … it wasn’t all Nassib and running back Jerome Smith, who does return after an 1,171-yard campaign. Shafer coaxed the defense into a respectable No. 47 national rating, a la similar styles to Clemson: aggressively making big plays amidst big screw-ups … this will be Syracuse’s first ACC league game.

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