Boyd, Morris grow up together

At Monday morning's press conference previewing the Discover Orange Bowl, Chad Morris was asked how far Tajh Boyd had come in three seasons under his watch.

The answer was quite revealing.

Boyd wasn't just having problems going through his progressions or changing into the right play at the line of scrimmage.

In fact, the fundamentals of the game were letting him down.

Long before Boyd and Morris were helping lead Clemson to its first conference championship in 20 years and three consecutive 10-plus win seasons, there were struggles... massive struggles.

"When I first got here Tajh struggled catching a shotgun snap," Morris said with a laugh. "My first spring here in installing our offense... it was to the point where it really alarmed me and I contacted our training staff and sent him to the eye doctor because I think he needs glasses."

"He came back and he had 20-20 (vision) and so I said let's go and figure this thing out."

After the first spring concluded with Morris calling plays and Boyd running the offense, the questions were still numerous. Boyd eventually became more comfortable with the shotgun snap, but his understanding of the offense wasn't where it needed to be.

He completed just 8-of-24 passes in the annual spring game, causing many to wonder if he had what it took to run the show.

"Tajh started this thing out and he tried to memorize the offense," Morris said. "And you can't do that. Every play has an answer. That's one thing we take a lot of pride in."

"It wasn't the best spring," Boyd said. "He pretty much came up to me and was like, look man, either you get it done or I'm going to find someone else that will. He can put his foot down and let you know what you have to work on."

Those struggles continued in the first half of the season opener that year as the Tigers trailed Troy at halftime, 16-13. For a while, it looked like Boyd's time in Chad Morris offense might be short lived.

However, he worked hard all summer trying to understand the concepts of the system more. He put in massive amounts of time in the film room and worked with his wide receivers Nuk Hopkins and Sammy Watkins as much as possible.

Eventually, that hard work paid off.

Clemson would rally to defeat the Trojans before becoming the first team in ACC history to defeat ranked opponents in three consecutive weeks, ending the nation's longest winning streak versus Auburn, upsetting top 15 Florida State and beating top 10 Virginia Tech on the road.

In all, Boyd would set 57 Clemson and ACC records in his three years as a starter. He more than doubled Clemson's previous record of touchdown passes thrown and led the Tigers to wins over nationally ranked programs like LSU and Georgia.

Morris said the result of those early struggles and watching Boyd grow so much since then has been rewarding.

"We've been very close. We know it's coming to an end sometime Friday night or early Saturday morning. But I'm one of the biggest Tajh Boyd fans and will always will be."

For Boyd, you get the sense he looks at Morris almost like a father figure.

"Honestly he's been one of the most influential people in my life," he said. "Especially with my growth and development. He's really straight forward and honest in everything he does."

In a way, it feels like Boyd and Morris have almost grown up together.

Morris arrived at Clemson just one year removed from coaching high school football in Texas. Many wondered if his offense would even work at this level. Meanwhile, Boyd, a strong-armed and strong-willed personality, was injured throughout his senior season and was a late addition to the 2009 signing class.

Turns out, it all worked out beautifully.

And, the good news is, with all the wins and records set, the two will have one more chance to cement their legacy in Tigertown.

A win over seventh-ranked Ohio State would certainly do that, wouldn't it? Top Stories