CLEMSON – Seven postgame reactions from the locker room and nuggets on the stat sheet, unveiled late into the night following Clemson’s 55-31 victory over visiting Georgia Tech at Memorial Stadium:
1) When Dabo Swinney went out to check on Tajh Boyd when the training staff couldn’t immediately rouse Clemson’s star player from the grass, the head coach joked he gave the quarterback the business.
“Ah, ain’t nothing wrong with him. That’s what I’m saying: get up, Tajh,” Swinney said, with that feisty grin on his face. “In my mind, I’m going, he’s Superman, ain’t nothing wrong with him.”
Swinney, of course, was kidding. (What else is new?)
“No, obviously your breath kind of goes away,” Swinney said, getting serious. “But I knew when I got out there he was okay. He was just kind of catching his breath for a second there.”
Swinney and tailback Roderick McDowell like to call Boyd Superman. Of course, like all the humans out there on the field with him, Boyd is made of flesh, blood and bone, and at first, Boyd was scared sick one of those 212 bones had snapped when defensive end Emmanuel Dieke rolled over Boyd at the end of a scramble.
“All of his weight kind of fell on my body. I just felt like this nasty crack and (heard) a crunching noise,” Boyd said. “Fortunately, it was nothing. It wasn’t a break; it was just a bruise. I’m blessed in this situation. I definitely in my mind was like, my career just ended at Clemson. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t.”
Boyd assured reporters he’d be fine, and he doesn’t plan on taking it easy or taking the day off in his next game: Senior Day, Nov. 23, against The Citadel.
“No. I’m going to take in every moment so it is something that I’ll never forget,” Boyd said. “I’m going to make my last game in Death Valley memorable.”
2) It wasn’t good to see Martavis Bryant catch five balls for 176 yards and a score.
“Great to see Martavis put a game together like that,” Boyd said. “This is the one he’s been wanting, the one we’ve been talking about.”
Bryant’s been 77 inches of enigma at times, but with 22 NFL scouts in the Bob Bradley press box, he might have made himself some money down the road with his 176 yards and a touchdown (plus another ending on the goal line) on five catches.
“It felt good for my work to finally pay off,” Bryant said. “As I keep playing the game, I keep getting better. Now it’s just going back to work on Monday and keep improving.”
Out of ten games, Bryant’s had at least 70 receiving yards in six of them. Just for comparison, in Sammy Watkins’ rough sophomore season last year, Watkins did so just four times. Bryant had only done it once his first two years at Clemson.
“He’s been practicing hard and listening to the coaches. I’ve been in his ear every week telling him he’s an NFL caliber receiver and that he’s a freak athlete,” Watkins said. “It’s good to see him come into a groove with Tajh. He understands he’s a big part of the offense now. He did a great job stepping up to the plate tonight.”
Bryant now has 34 catches for 698 yards and four touchdowns. His 20.53 yards per grab ranks him tenth in the country going into Saturday.
“I always tell (Boyd) that if he just throws it up, I’ll get it,” Bryant said. “He’s not going to overthrow me. Not many people can.”
3) Isaiah Battle sighting!
“Very impressed, intrigued with Isaiah,” offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “He’s had some good work weeks over the last couple weeks. Just provides such great athleticism. He’s one of the best athletes we have. So that was good to see. It’ll be interesting to watch the film on him to see how he responds, and definitely gives us a little bit of an edge right there.”
Battle nicked up his shoulder during the game, but he locked up Jeremiah Attaochu for a good chunk of the game when he was in there.
4) There’s not enough space or depth here to probe Quandon Christian’s career and senior year. One thing Christian was quite proud of Saturday night was getting to start all four years in the Georgia Tech game; as the team’s clear third linebacker, he commonly gets yanked against the more pass-happy attacks.
In his freshman and sophomore years, Christian had four tackles. In his junior and senior years, Christian had eight tackles. On Thursday, three of them were behind the line of scrimmage.
“It was pretty tough. It’s always tough playing against them,” Christian said. “I’ve had the chance to start against them every year I’ve been here, so I pretty much was familiar with what they did and how they blocked it.”
5) The Yellow Jackets got theirs (well, OK, mainly just Robert Godhigh) as we knew they would, but they never were consistent at all. Chalk that up to 10 tackles for loss and steady three-and-outs caused by the Clemson defense.
“We came out with a chip on our shoulder. We played with relentless effort,” defensive end Vic Beasley said. “It was so important for us to get to the ball and make tackles, especially for a loss by making big plays out there.”
6) Georgia Tech entered the week with the No. 12-rated defense by total yardage, which is a fine place to be. But it clearly had holes in certain areas; holes the Tigers were easily able to expose for 551 total yards.
“You guys want to make our defense the Green Bay Packers one week and the next week you want to say they stink,” Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said. “We didn’t make very many plays tonight. What did they throw, one deep ball that wasn’t a catch? We were in position to make a play and we just did not make the play.”
7) Clemson 73, Georgia Tech 0. That was the score 110 years ago – in 1903, the same year the Wright Brothers invented aviation.
In the 74 matchups since, the Tigers hadn’t come as close as they did to matching that offensive figure since they rolled out double nickels Thursday.
“This is a rivalry that’s lasted a long time and it’s always a tough game,” Swinney said. “It was great to see our guys rise up and produce.”