Tigers hope to continue fast start

Clemson last started a season this well 11 years ago.

Having a healthy Tajh Boyd under center should improve the Tigers' chances of matching that feat.

Boyd is expected to be fully recovered from a hip injury Saturday night when he tries to lead Clemson to a 7-0 start against ACC rival Maryland at Byrd Stadium.

The eighth-ranked Tigers (6-0, 3-0) are tied with Wake Forest atop the ACC's Atlantic Division, and are on the brink of their best overall start to a season since opening 8-0 in 2000.

Coach Dabo Swinney is guarding against complacency in an effort to extend the current run.

"It's easy to lose your focus and get complacent," he said. "You start reading your press clippings and listen to everyone tell you how good you are. We have to stick to the same formula every week. We prepare with purpose, every day. We give great effort with emphasis on technique.

"Teams lose their focus and their humility and then they lose."

Losing his quarterback for an extended period would've been an even greater blow to Swinney and the Tigers, but Boyd is expected to be recovered from a strained hip and start Saturday.

Boyd left Saturday's 36-14 victory over Boston College early in the third quarter after he was hit by defensive end Max Holloway. He finished the game completing 16 of 26 for 283 yards and one touchdown, while running for another score and adding 37 yards on six carries.

"Honestly, I just felt like I couldn't walk," Boyd said. "It felt that bad.

"It was a little scary. If you look at it, it definitely could have gone a lot of different ways. But fortunately, it turned out in my favor."

Boyd has been a revelation in his first year as a starter, leading the conference with 1,742 yards through the air, while his 15 passing TDs rank second. He also has three rushing scores and only two interceptions after Clemson totaled 14 last year.

"He is very athletic and a good thrower," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "I am very impressed with what I have seen out of him on film. He can run the ball, throws the ball well and plays at a high level."

Freshman Sammy Watkins has emerged as Boyd's top target, leading the team with 38 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns.

Clemson's offense may be in for a test against the Terrapins (2-3, 1-1), who have allowed a league-low one passing touchdown and an average of 210.8 passing yards.

However, Maryland's run defense is the worst in the ACC, surrendering 196.4 yards per game and 13 TDs.

That could mean another big day for Andre Ellington, who rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries for Clemson last week. He's found the end zone in each of the last five games, and his 528 rushing yards are among the league leaders.

The Tigers, though, have dropped three of their past five games against Maryland, losing 24-21 in the last visit Oct. 3, 2009.

"This is a big game against Maryland - they're a division opponent," Swinney said. "They're right in the middle of things. If we want to stay in the driver's seat in our division, we have to win this week. It's about us and how we play."

The Terrapins have dropped three of four and are trying to rebound from last Saturday's 21-16 loss at then-No. 13 Georgia Tech.

While Boyd is Clemson's unquestioned starter, Maryland has a brewing controversy after Edsall pulled Danny O'Brien last week following a second-quarter interception. C.J. Brown replaced him, and tossed a pick in the end zone in the third quarter. The duo combined to complete 5 of 23 passes for 53 yards.

Edsall isn't ready to name a starter.

"We are very fortunate that we have two outstanding quarterbacks here," he said. "We are going to evaluate the quarterback position just like we do everywhere else. We will evaluate it and then come Saturday night we will make a determination as to who will be our starter this week. That might help us from a standpoint of Clemson not knowing who to prepare for."

One certainty is that Davin Meggett will get the ball. He leads the team with 413 rushing yards and a 5.0 average per carry, while totaling 188 yards on 34 carries with a touchdown over the last two games.

CUTigers.com Top Stories