A day of rest

Tajh Boyd didn't touch the playing field Saturday after halftime in Clemson's 52-13 win over South Carolina State … and with good reason.

Boyd didn't need to play. Sure, Clemson could have run up Boyd's statistics and added to his Heisman hype – and probably could have scored as many points as it wanted to – against the overmatched Bulldogs. But what good would that have done?

Who would that have helped?

It makes me squeamish when I see college coaches run up the score on other teams. We are, after all, still talking about college students. But some coaches don't seem to mind drilling an overmatched opponent and continuing to beat home the point about who is the better team.

It says a lot about Dabo Swinney that he doesn't buy into that. Again, Clemson could have named its number against South Carolina State, but that doesn't help either program. And it probably would hurt Clemson's reputation by to do that. There is something to be said for winning with class.

Outside of showing some class and respect for the opponent, a game like Saturday serves two important football purposes.

First, it gives Boyd and some of the starters a chance to rest and have a short day. It's a long season, after all, and it's beneficial for those players to have a short day or two. Plus, there was no need to have Boyd and say, Sammy Watkins, out there running up statistics and risking the chance of a serious injury.

Second, it gives other players the opportunity to play and show what they can do when they're given the chance. For example, 14 different Tigers caught a pass and 10 different players attempted a rush. That's important.

There were many players who got on the field Saturday who didn't last week and might not in many games. Saturday is the kind of game to reward them for working hard in practice day after day.

With those two thoughts in mind, Saturday was just about a perfect game for the Tigers.

QB position is in good shape
Boyd is a Heisman candidate for a reason, and we all saw that in the season opener against Georgia. But Boyd's backup, Cole Stoudt, is pretty, well … stout. Stoudt showed that again Saturday when Boyd left the game early after being banged up a bit and later when Boyd left the game for good. Stoudt connected on 19-of-20 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns, pretty impressive numbers indeed. Most importantly, Stoudt, who did have a fumble after being hit from the blind side, is careful with the ball, makes good decisions and always seems to find the correct receiver. The junior is in his third year in the program, and he has the system down pat and is much more comfortable and confident in what he is doing than he was just last year.

I know everyone wants to see Chad Kelly play when he gets the chance, and count me in that group, but don't think Stoudt is just going to step aside and hand the starting spot to Kelly when Boyd is gone. That's going to be an interesting position battle, for sure, after this season.

More growth on defense
Clemson's defense gave up a lot of points and yards against Georgia, but it also came up with big play after big play in that season-opening win.

Those big plays continued Saturday, highlighted by the interception returns for touchdowns by Martin Jenkins and Darius Robinson. The Tigers also forced a fumble and now own a 5-2 edge in turnover margin through the first two weeks of the season.

The numbers were pretty solid throughout the day for the Tigers' defense, allowing just 241 total yards – 155 passing and only 86 rushing – while not really giving up any sustained drives. South Carolina State's only scores came on two long touchdown passes.

Brent Venables, like Chad Morris on offense, got to play a lot of people on defense, and that's a good thing moving forward. The defensive front played well, holding South Carolina State to just 1.9 yards per carry and recording four sacks for the second straight game.

Granted, the game was against an FCS program, but it was another solid step in the right direction for Venables' defense.

House of horrors
Up next is a Thursday night game at N.C. State in 11 days, and that could be a dangerous combination for Clemson.

Thursday games haven't always been kind to the Tigers, and everyone remembers the last time Clemson went to Carter-Finley Stadium, so the Tigers will have to be focused.

But focused seems to be an important word for Swinney's program

It would be a shock to see Clemson not come out focused and ready to play.

Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Morning Show on FoxSports 1670 AM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at macon.com/peachsports.

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