DURHAM, N.C. — PERHAPS IT IS finally time to interject Tajh Boyds name into consideration for the Heisman Trophy.
The Clemson quarterback, largely overlooked on the national scene most of this season, put on a Heisman-like performance Saturday in the first half of the Tigers stream-rolling of outmanned Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium.
He followed a five-touchdown performance against Wake Forest nine days earlier with another five touchdown passes and one run for a score against Duke. At some point, you have to believe Boyds continued showings are more habit than happenstance.
Immediately after completing 16 of 23 passes for 344 yards and rushing for another 72 yards, Boyd was asked if he is playing at the top of his game.
I guess its arguable, Boyd said. I feel like Ive still got so much more to improve, so much more to learn. Ive just got to take it from there. Im just very proud of the way Coach trusts me with this offense.
For now, Boyd has remained on the Heisman Trophy sideline, seldom mentioned with the likes of leading candidates such as Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teo, Oregon running back Kenjon Barner and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.
Yet Boyd appears to have the two essential ingredients necessary to be a candidate: Visibility and statistics.
The visibility for the award comes with playing on a team that is in the national rankings and consistently appears on national TV. Clemson ran its record to 8-1 with Saturdays victory, and as long as the 10th-ranked Tigers continue to win, Boyd should remain in the national spotlight.
Should Clemson run the remaining table in the regular season, the Tigers could be in line for a BCS bowl bid that would further heighten Boyds awareness nationally.
Boyd also keeps piling up eye-opening statistics. Some nationally might have seen his five touchdown passes in the first half a week ago against Wake Forest as somewhat of a fluke against a so-so opponent.
But when you match that performance in your next game, it no longer is a fluke. Boyds five touchdown passes in the first half against Duke also again tied the Clemson single-game record.
He just missed a chance at his sixth touchdown pass early in the third quarter when a 25-yard completion to Sam Cooper left Clemson at the Duke 3-yard-line.
I just cant seem to get that sixth one, Boyd said with a laugh. I went up to Coop and was like, 2 yards? You fell on the 2-yard line?
It was kind of far (from the goal line), Boyd recalled Cooper saying.
Its all good, Boyd responded, again laughing.
It all seems to be good for Boyd this season.
Through nine games, Boyd has as sparkling a set of statistics as anyone in the country on a BCS bowl-contending team. He has completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,680 yards and 25 touchdowns against nine interceptions.
If he can continue to be more of a threat with his legs, Boyds stock should rise even further. His career-high 72 yards rushing on nine carries Saturday, including a spectacular 21-yard dash to the end zone off a zone-read play, gave Boyd 350 yards and five rushing touchdowns for the season.
The only down side to his performance were three interceptions, but one of those was a desperation heave at the end of the first half.
Im not really too worried about it as long as we get the win, Boyd said of the interceptions.
Even with the interceptions, Boyd said Clemsons offense is beginning to click into high gear at the right time. That was never more evident than in the first half Saturday when Boyd directed scoring drives of 76, 75, 75, 80, 72 and 84 yards.
That, Boyd said, is nothing but fun.
Youve got to just go out there and have fun. Its been fun to me lately, he said. Guys have been coming out, everybody is touching the ball ... I just love to see it. Its been so much fun playing with these guys and being able to put points up like that.
The 56 points for Clemson and the 416 yards of offense from Boyd should propel the redshirt junior quarterback into at least some Heisman Trophy consideration.