Clemson offense gets big day from backups, Boyd talks about big hit

by - Senior Writer -
Rod McDowell led the Tigers in rushing with 86 yards on 9 carries.

CLEMSON – Clemson’s offense did what it was supposed to do on Saturday – score early and often on the under-sized Presbyterian defense.

The Tigers ran 59 plays for 414 yards, and had matters well in hand with a 42-point first half. Starting quarterback Kyle Parker was sharp in his limited action – completing 6-of-9 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns – while backup Tajh Boyd saw extended playing time, completing 4-of-9 passes for 87 yards and two scores. He also ran for a touchdown.

However, the true stars of the game were running backs Rod McDowell and Daniel Barnes, who combined for 165 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, giving starters Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington most of the afternoon off as they await a much stiffer test against Auburn next week.

Offensive coordinator Billy Napier said after the game that he was pleased with the work of the first group while they were in the game.

““I was pleased with our first group and the focus that they showed up with and the execution level early,” Napier said. “I thought we threw and caught the ball well early. I thought Kyle was sharp. I thought our front guys played well. I thought Dwayne Allen made a couple of nice plays.”

Harper and Ellington each had just three carries, which left the bulk of the rushing load to McDowell and Barnes, and McDowell said he was more than happy to let “New Storm” watch him run.

“I tell Jamie and Andre and those guys all the time, ‘You lead, I'll follow,' ” McDowell said. “When they're in there making plays, it gets me pumped, gets me excited. So when I go in, I'm going to make plays.”

Barnes transferred into Clemson and walked on before earning a scholarship this fall, and responded with what will undoubtedly be his career day as a Tigers, carrying 11 times for 79 yards, and he said that Saturday was well worth the wait.

“The feeling, the success, it's something many people dream about,” Barnes said. “Many people watch, they come, that's why we practice to get here. To be one of the ones to make it, it's great.”

Barnes also scored, on an 11-yard shovel pass from Boyd, and said he simply didn’t know how to react once he crossed the goal line.

“When I got to the end zone, I didn't know how to celebrate,” he said. “All I could do was scream. It seemed like it was a dream before getting to the end zone, but when my teammates started congratulating me, reality hit.”

PRICE SUFFERS INJURY:Backup left tackle Phillip Price, who has proven himself to be an invaluable piece of the Clemson offensive line early this season, surely had Clemson fans and coaches concerned when he lay on the field for several minutes early in the third quarter after injuring his right leg.

Price was helped off the field, and he couldn’t put any weight on the leg. He was seen walking after the game, but with a boot on the leg, and head coach Dabo Swinney characterized it as a lower leg strain.

“He was walking and his ligaments looked fine,” Swinney said. “It's more his ankle, and that's a good sign. We'll see how he reacts overnight but hopefully he'll be OK.”

HOPKINS ON AUBURN:Freshman wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins stood in the hallway outside of the Clemson locker room, and he was asked about the opportunity to play at Auburn next week, his first road game as a collegian, and his answers were surprisingly candid.

“ We know they’re a good team,” Hopkins said. “We have to come out and have a good week of practice and focus on what we have to do. We have to do our assignments because it is going to take all of us. They have a good quarterback, but I feel like they could have been beaten Thursday. They’re a beatable team. They’re not Ohio State or anybody like that.”

BOYD MAKES THE HIT TAPE:Boyd was a part of one of the more interesting plays of the afternoon when one of his passes was intercepted by PC’s Matthew Roper. Roper turned upfield almost immediately, where he ran into an obviously upset Boyd, who tried to hit the 280-pound defensive lineman.

The impact between Boyd and Roper sent Boyd’s helmet flying downfield, and the redshirt freshman admitted he should have tried to tackle Roper lower.

“I made the hit tape. It’ll be fun watching it on tape,” a smiling Boyd said after the game. I wasn’t really expecting him to drop [into coverage], and the worst part was I must not have thrown it hard enough. Then I thought he was going to be tackled by Nuke [WR Hopkins] but he didn’t tackle him so I was going to kill him. The next thing I knew my helmet was on the other side of the field and my neck was hurting. I don’t think I’ll do that anymore.”

Boyd admitted to being stunned following the collision.

“Yeah a little,” he said. “My neck was a little sore. It’s just something that came with it – it was something to experience. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

Boyd did say that Swinney had some advice following the hit.

“He was like ‘you gotta watch yourself out there, but I like the enthusiasm though’. I don’t think I’m going to do that anymore,” Boyd said. “I might just try to take out some legs next time. It was an experience to remember. I saw him duck his head and I was like, ‘I’m gonna try to bang him’- it was good.”

Boyd actually got to see game action in the first quarter, and he said hewas pleased with the overall effort.

“After the second drive coach was like, ‘you’re going in there on the fourth series regardless of what happens’,” Boyd said. “I was excited. It was a good thing- I’m looking forward to the next game. I thought i did a lot of good things. There are still some kinks I need to work out. A lot of plays they were in stride- I made some of the right decisions. The biggest thing is I just have to keep on improving.”

Napier said he was pleased with Boyd in his first extensive game action.

“I think it was great to get Tajh out there,” Napier said. “He did some good things. I think he made a few mistakes, but that’s to be expected being that it was his first significant time. But he showed he’s very capable.”

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