Off to an early start

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The start of the Tajh Boyd era came about 30 minutes prematurely, and he nearly led Clemson to the most improbable of comebacks.

After Kyle Parker went down with broken ribs on the Tigers' final drive of the first half, Boyd was pressed into duty in Friday's 31-26 loss to South Florida.

The redshirt freshman completed 13 of 23 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns and an interception, nearly leading Clemson to a fourth quarter comeback in the Meineke Car Care Bowl at Bank of America Stadium.

Boyd played one series in the first half with one completion out of three passes for three yards.

Offensive coordinator Billy Napier believed Boyd threw all inhibition to the wind in the fourth quarter.

"I think, what happens to a guy like that, sometimes he gets in a situation where nothing else matters but competing and trying to get your team in position to win the game," Napier said. "I think you saw that from him. He finally said, ‘Hey, the heck with it. I'm going to be a player—do what I do.'

"I think that's going to be valuable as he moves forward, to think back about those positive experiences he had at the end of the game. I think he just got comfortable."

DeAndre Hopkins, who had a game-high nine catches for 105 yards, believes Boyd grew up a little bit.

"Tajh played an awesome game…he had a couple of mistakes, but that's just from experience," Hopkins said. "But Tajh stepped up."

At halftime, Boyd got word that he'd get the nod in the second half.

"Coach Swinney just said, ‘Go out there and win the game for us.' I wish I could have done that," he said.

Boyd nearly did.

He hit Brandon Ford on fourth quarter touchdown strikes of six and 10 yards.

During the fourth quarter, Boyd completed 8 of 10 passes for 91 yards, plus the two scores.

And it's something nice to build on heading into 2011.

"It's disappointing with the outcome. Everybody wanted to compete. That's all we can ask for as players," Boyd said. "I think we did that. I think the seniors ended on a high note, just the way the players fought. We can't ask for anything more than that." Top Stories