Grading Clemson's Quarterbacks

In the first installment of an eight-part series, CUTigers takes an in-depth position-by-position look at what we thought before the season and what's been learned since.

We'll also gaze into the crystal ball and take a look ahead at the future:

Kyle Parker was tabbed as Offensive MVP in the Bold Predictions feature in this season's magazine preview.

Impressed by his vision, pocket presence and arm strength in 2009, Parker was believed to be ready for a solid redshirt sophomore campaign.

Offensive coordinator Billy Napier said, "I really believe the kid has untapped potential, in terms of the way he played down the stretch [in 2009]. He's played 14 games and been through a season. I think his best football is ahead of him, now that he knows how to prepare."

There were questions as to how soon the quarterback of the future, Tajh Boyd, was ready to contribute.

A full summer of workouts with an entire season devoted to learning the offense was said to be the ideal scenario in Boyd's development.

Just a quick glimpse at the numbers would lead one to believe that Parker regressed from year one to year two as some of Parker's numbers were indeed down this season.

During 14 games in 2009, he threw for 2,526 yards with 20 touchdown passes and had a completion percentage of 55.6.

This year, Parker recorded 2,079 passing yards and 12 touchdowns through 12 games. He's also thrown 45 fewer passes and two less interceptions.

Boyd, who completed 20 of 40 passes for 217 yards with two touchdowns and two picks, played in half the games, including most of the second half against South Carolina.

Clearly Boyd was not ready to take over the starting job this season. He's even said so himself.

Simply put, the redshirt freshman is still a work in progress, but has shown the arm strength, confidence and athleticism to make things happen.

In fact, we still need to see more good things from him on the field before we're ready to sell him as a better option than Parker.

When evaluating Parker's success this season, the pieces around him must also be considered.

The good news was the offensive line, which returned six veterans.

The bad news was there wasn't nearly as much experience at the skill positions. Plus, he didn't have C.J. Spiller, Jacoby Ford and Michael Palmer to throw to. (By the way all three players have scored touchdowns in the NFL this year.)

Hence the Clemson wide receiver group rarely presented true threat for explosive plays downfield.

QB Kyle Parker is expected to start in the bowl game versus South Florida. (Roy Philpott)
Parker did develop a nice chemistry with DeAndre Hopkins and Jaron Brown, both of whom have shown flashes of excellence this season, but lacked in consistency as threats in the vertical passing game.

It is a bit of a head scratcher that Dwayne Allen had just four catches in the final four games this year. Fourteen of Allen's 31 total catches were against North Carolina and Boston College.

He needs 12 in the bowl game to match Palmer's 43 from a year ago.

Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington weren't nearly as dangerous as Spiller was catching the ball.

They have combined for 43 catches for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Spiller had 36 for 503 and four scores during his senior season.

It's impossible to quantify how much better Parker could have performed had he been around for most of the summer workouts, instead of playing baseball.

The same could probably be said had he not taken a hit to the rib cage in the second half against Auburn.

After the hit, several weeks passed before we saw Parker uncork a deep ball like he could in the first 16½ games of his career.

At times, it seemed like he'd escape from the pocket too early, usually sprinting out to the right.

Might that nagging rib injury have something to do with his quick exits from the pocket?

Aside from that, there were times when it appeared that Parker would try to do too much, maybe looking to overcompensate for the lack of explosiveness downfield.

For all the harsh criticism of Parker's play, he wasn't terrible. But he wasn't all that great either. For the most part, it's been pretty average in 2010.


With Parker playing minor league baseball in Asheville next spring, Boyd will be penciled in as the starting quarterback when Clemson's season opens in 2011.

He will be joined by a pair of freshmen in January when three-star prospects Tony McNeal and Cole Stoudt arrive.

Next season, only one offensive lineman from the six-man rotation will be gone. Every player with double-digit totals in receptions will be back, too.

Plus, there's a significant level of new skill scheduled to be in Clemson as well, including five-star wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Charone Peake, not to mention four-star standout Martavis Bryant.

Five-star running back Mike Bellamy and four-star ground gainer Marlin Lane will also be factors as well.

Also don't forget four-star tight end Eric MacLain, perhaps Clemson's most physically ready-to-play member of the 2011 class.

The bottom line here is there's plenty for Clemson fans to get excited about, but growing pains are to be expected with a redshirt sophomore playing quarterback.

Boyd has made plenty of strides in his second year, but he's far from a finished product.

Perhaps the upcoming bowl game and spring practice will get him closer to where he needs to be.

Certainly, with more explosive weapons at his disposal, it wouldn't be shocking to see him have a more productive 2011 season than was witnessed under center this past year. Top Stories