Work in progress

CLEMSON - As much as he hated to say it, Tajh Boyd admitted he wasn't prepared to be a starting quarterback last year.

But for several tense moments at Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, it appeared he wouldn't be given a choice.

After Clemson's Kyle Parker absorbed a devastating hit in the back from Auburn tackle Nick Fairley, it looked like Boyd was going to be the guy.

But the play came on third down and Parker had several minutes to collect himself. Eventually he stepped back on the field on Clemson's next possession.

Boyd told reporters earlier this week that was likely best for the team.

"I wish I could say I would've been ready to lead the team against Auburn, but knowing what I know now, that's just not the case," he said.

Boyd would go on to observe last year's inconsistent and stagnant offense from the sidelines. Occasionally thrown into the game for a few snaps, the conditions were not exactly ideal for him to establish any type of rhythm.

This year, it's been a different story.

New offensive coordinator, new game plan, and new responsibilities.

The center of the media attention, a poised Boyd offers intelligent answers like a seasoned veteran, and it is obvious he has a firm grasp on what this offense is trying to accomplish. He also took great strides in his first two games, showing improving accuracy, big-playmaking ability, and chemistry with his wide receivers.

"I'm steadily coming along, just getting used to the speed of the game and the players we have. My comfort level is getting better each week, and that's a credit to the coaches and my teammates," Boyd said.

In two games, Boyd has a passer rating of 169.3 and has thrown six touchdowns and one interception. Though, what may be most impressive about Boyd's performance thus far is his leadership.

Swinney and new offensive coordinator Chad Morris both emphasized the offensive line must play more physical.

Tajh Boyd has thrown for six touchdowns versus just one interception in two starts this season. (Roy Philpott)
But Boyd stepped up and said the line was not the root of all miscommunication.

"There's stuff we didn't execute very well, but we'll get that corrected this week. Everything is not on them. I missed some hot reads. We can all do something better as an offensive unit to help the line out," he said.

Against Auburn, Boyd must do what he did against Troy and Wofford. That means making sound decisions, taking care of the ball, and executing the game plan.

"I think it is a statement game for us, and the ACC as well. Auburn is a great team and we're all excited about it and looking forward to it," said Boyd.

Saturday starts a three-game stretch that will define the Tigers' season. Auburn's defense has struggled this year in close wins over Utah State and Mississippi State, and Clemson's offense will need to exploit mismatches all over the field in order to expect a different outcome from last year's game.

"Any time you lose, it's disappointing and it's something you really don't want to experience. We are going to do everything in our power this year to make sure that doesn't happen," said Boyd.

And when your leader has that type of mentality, there's a good chance it won't. Top Stories