Harper has big day, Boyd gets playing time

by - Senior Writer -
Harper finished with 142 yards rushing, including a 63-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Running back Jamie Harper was averaging a paltry 2.9 yards per carry in the first half and he knew that adjustments needed to be made.

“They were doing a lot of different things, things that we hadn’t really practiced against,” Harper said. “We went in and made the adjustments, and I got together with the offensive line. The second half was a lot better, and we just went out and made plays.”

Harper finished with 142 yards rushing, including a 63-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and he credited his blockers for the score.

“I have all the confidence in the world in those guys, and they opened up a huge hole for me,” he said. “I had to make a few guys miss, and then I had to make a play downfield. Xavier Dye gave me a great block downfield.”

Offensive coordinator Billy Napier said Harper got better once he got comfortable.

"I think he got more comfortable. They did some things differently, but that's to be expected,” Napier said. “He made some full-speed decisions and wasn't decisive about where he was going to go with it. I think coach Brad Scott and coach [Danny] Pearman made some nice adjustments at halftime to help us.

“Jamie made some unbelievable plays. That slow screen with Jamie on the third-and-10 was a huge play. What a great second effort for that kid. You can see he's getting more comfortable. Two weeks in a row he's getting more comfortable. Hopefully he can continue to improve each week as we go forward."

Backup quarterback Tajh Boyd played at the end of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter, and led two Clemson scoring drives. Napier said Boyd needed to get some snaps.

“I think it's great that the guy gets to go play some,” Napier said. “He made some mistakes but did some things well. He got out there and got a feel for what it was like to play successive plays. We've been wanting to do that the whole year, but it hasn't been that kind of year. Today was a huge step forward in terms of his development. I know he's smiling big, but that's part of the process. He'd be the first to tell you he did some things good but made some bad decisions as well. He'll learn every time he's out there."

Boyd said he finally achieved a level of comfort out on the field, and said he was disappointed in two things – that the first drive didn’t end in a touchdown, and his interception.

“I really wanted a touchdown on that drive and not the field goal,” Boyd said. “I thought we were going to get it, too. On that interception, I should have put more air under the ball. I threw it kind of flat, and the linebacker jumped up and tipped it. But these are the types of things I can learn from.”

Despite his insistence that he isn’t a running quarterback, Boyd had a couple of nice runs and showed he can be a running threat.

“That is something I want to work on in the spring and summer,” he said. “I want to be a complete quarterback, and if you prove that you can make plays with your feet as well as your arm, it just makes it harder on the defense.”

Napier said it was nice to just get Boyd on the field for multiple snaps.

"Just overall any playing time, given the type of season we've had, is critical,” Napier said. “We put him in there a little bit earlier and I thought he did a nice job managing things. It shows he's got above average athleticism. He learned that it's truly a game management deal. He told me he felt bad about his fundamentals because he was so consumed with the game. But it's good to get him in there. He'll never forget the experience he had today."

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