After the Georgia safety bites, Boyd has a wide open passing lane that allows him to hit Sammy Watkins, who makes another huge play for the Tigers.
Predicting what a high school football player might become once they reach the college level is a nearly impossible task. There is no roster spot tougher to forecast than quarterback, the game's most important position.
Coming in as a young quarterback with the weight of an entire university's expectations resting on your shoulders tough to take on at 18 years old.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd took the challenge head on and has been everything that was expected and probably more.
There is a standout group of elite quarterbacks in college football right now. Johnny Manziel is terrorizing the SEC with his arm and his legs. Same goes for Marcus Mariota out west. Teddy Bridgewater is considered by nearly all the experts as a top ten pick in next year's NFL Draft.
The list goes on but Boyd's name rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as the other top quarterbacks.
It should be.
His gaudy stats are one thing, but Boyd has been so much more than that for the Tigers. He came in with a lot of hype and helped Clemson become a force to be reckoned with after years of failing to live up to expectations.
Boyd has endured some inconsistency throughout his career, but he has been the biggest reason for Clemson's ascension back towards college football's elite.
He does a number of things at a high level, not the least of which is commanding the high-powered Clemson offense.
His toughness has never been in question and his ability to improvise, while maintaining composure, has greatly improved during his career. Leading Clemson to back-to-back wins over LSU and Georgia showed how far he has come in his career.
Boyd has a lot of weapons to play with at Clemson and he takes full advantage with a quick-hitting passing attack that allows the playmakers to get the ball and make a play.
When it is left up to him he can pull it down and run. In the past, Boyd had a tendency to pull the ball down early and try to make a play. He has clearly progressed from an over eager quarterback to a patient leader that commands the powerful Tigers' attack.
He has a compact and tight delivery, but the ball leaves his hand with good zip, which allows him to make any throw he needs to make. Here are some of the things Boyd does well that have him in the argument as the best quarterback in college football.
In this red zone play against Duke in 2012, Boyd saw that the Blue Devils decided to load the box and play DeAndre Hopkins one-on-one at the top.
Boyd knows he has a huge advantage with the match up and knows all he has to do is get rid of the ball quick and throw a jump ball. Many young quarterbacks will get over excited in a situation like this and make a mistake.
Boyd doesn't make that mistake.
He is a seasoned veteran that waits for Hopkins to make a quick hesitation move before going into his fade route. With the play's flow headed to the bottom of the screen, all Boyd has to do is throw it up. As soon as Hopkins breaks out of his jump-step hesitation, Boyd knows to let it go early and throw it high to the deep corner.
The timing and delivery worked out perfectly for Boyd and the Tigers.
In that same game, Boyd ran the read-option perfectly by holding the mesh point for three yards before pulling it out. He followed his blocks en route to a nice run that finishes with him in the end zone.
After seeing very limited action as a freshman, Boyd exploded on the scene as a sophomore with over 3800 through the air, along with 33 touchdowns. As a junior it was more of the same. In 2013 his stats haven't been through the roof but they haven't needed to be yet.
Boyd is only 6'1 but he stands tall in the pocket and plays taller than he actually is. His ability to take over a game as a runner, a pocket passer or by throwing on the run, puts him on par with the game's other elite dual-threat quarterbacks. Here is a highlight video from NFLMockingDraft on YouTube.
Boyd throw the deep ball as good as anyone and has done so out of a variety of formations and situations. In this highlight video you will see...
-(0:05 second-mark) Boyd fakes the hand-off, looks hard to the sideline and once his receiver makes his break, Boyd fires a rifle into a tight window in the back of the end zone.
-(0:29) The fade pass against Duke as described above.
-(0:38) A great example of Boyd's maturation and patience in the pocket against Georgia Tech. When the pocket breaks down, Boyd doesn't get flustered and bail out. He keeps his eyes downfield, feels his way around the pocket, breaks outside and shows good field awareness by not crossing the line of scrimmage. He then zips a strong throw across his body on the run to his play maker, who does the rest.
-(0:52) Boyd makes a hard fake to the dummy bubble screen option and then hits his man on a quick slant once the safeties have bought into the fake.
-(1:05) The read-option touchdown run against Duke as shown above.
-(1:14) A beautiful fade route to the corner against Wake Forest that is exactly where it needs to be, resulting in a touchdown.
-(1:28) Boyd hit WR DeAndre Hopkins in stride after standing tall in the face of an oncoming rush of Florida State defenders.
-(1:38) Boyd shows his arm strength and fires a rocket into a very small window for another scoring toss.
-(1:43) With a number of things happening at the line of scrimmage, Boyd fakes the quick screen and the end-around while maintaining a strong pocket presence. He then locks and loads before hitting his receiver on a perfect 58-yard throw(in the air) that Boyd hits on a dime.
-(2:12) Boyd gives a quick fake to the dive and a quick look at the end around before unleashing a beautiful ball that drops perfectly over the shoulder of his receiver in the far corner.
-(2:20) With the game on the line from deep in his own red-zone, Boyd rips a perfect strike down low where only his receiver could get it. He then drives the Tigers down the field for the score.
-(2:23) - Boyd eyes his receiver at the top of the screen until he goes into his inside break. Boyd then looks off the safety by looking back across the field to freeze the deep safety. Once the safety bites for a split second and he sees that his primary target has perfectly executed his double move, Boyd releases a deep strike for another long touchdown.
Here you see his ability to throw into a window after making a fake to bring the Georgia safety forward. Once the safety steps up Boyd's target goes into his break toward the now-clear window and Boyd throws a strike for a first down.
Here is an example of Boyd's improved timing. He released the ball as soon as his receiver cleared and droped it in over the top of the linebacker.
Boyd's athleticism, strong arm and leadership have put him among the elite players in all of college football. Should he continue his ascension throughout his senior season, he will likely be headed to the Heisman Trophy presentation as a finalist and possibly a spot in the first round of the NFL Draft.
With this nice, back-shoulder touchdown pass last night, Boyd tied former Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke for number two all-time in ACC history with 79 touchdown passes.
Despite his less than ideal height, Boyd sees the field very well and manages the game at a high level. By no means is he a, "game manager," because like Manziel and Mariota, Boyd can single-handedly take over a game.
His vastly improved decision making and his overall maturation as a quarterback have the Tigers on pace for a run to the ACC Championship and a spot in the discussion for inclusion into the BCS Championship Game.
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