CLEMSON — Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd needs one class to graduate in December, so he doesn’t have much to do most days outside of football.
That’s the way he planned it.
Now, he intends to savor every last moment of his final few weeks running the eighth-ranked Tigers’ offense.
“It’s all bitter sweet for me,” Boyd said Tuesday. “It’s one of these deals where you like, ‘Whoa, what happens from here?’ You know it becomes a job after this.”
Boyd’s lone course for his December graduation is a strength and conditioning class he’s taking online.
“It’s harder than I thought it would be,” he said with a smile.
Things haven’t quite worked out like he planned, but Boyd said he does not regret passing on the NFL to play one more season at Clemson. Boyd and the Tigers had high expectations — he was among the preseason favorites for the Heisman Trophy while Clemson was chasing a national championship — but that has faded some after the 51-14 drubbing at home against third-ranked Florida State, 51-14, on Oct. 19.
The Tigers (8-1, 6-1 ACC) have rebounded with road wins against Maryland and Virginia the past two weeks and head into their week off with a renewed sense for a special season.
Those victories “let us know that we haven’t reached our peak yet,” safety Robert Smith said. “There’s better football to come.”
Boyd believes that, too.
He spends most of his time in football offices or on the practice field with his teammates, coaches and friends. Boyd wants to soak up as much of camaraderie as possible before advancing to the next level.
He’s already spoken with some other upperclassmen about returning to an empty Death Valley after their final home game against Citadel on Nov. 23 to reflect on how far they and the program have come.
“Each year, you start to grow more confident, you start to realize who you are, you start to become your own person,” he said. “At the end, you’re in the front row.”
Boyd’s happy with his season so far of 2,181 yards passing, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s second in the ACC in average passing yards per game, pass efficiency and total offense. He’s set several Clemson career marks and became the third ACC quarterback in history to surpass 10,000 yards passing.
The Florida State loss was a stunning blow that took the spotlight away from the Tigers and Boyd. But the senior quarterback won’t define himself or his team by one awful game.
“There’s been ups and downs, more ups than downs this season,” Boyd said. “I don’t regret my decision (to return) at all. I think it was the best decision.”
Boyd hopes to prove that even more over the final few games.
Clemson can finish 7-1 in the ACC a second straight year when it wraps up league play at home against Georgia Tech on Nov. 14. The Tigers take on FCS opponent Citadel to close its home season on Nov. 23 before the regular-season finale against rival South Carolina on Nov. 30.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney will try and build a bit more rest time for the Tigers during the season’s second free Saturday, although the team will regroup earlier because of the its first home Thursday night kickoff in 11 years.
Swinney was pleased they put together their most complete performance of the year last Saturday, a 59-10 win over Virginia, heading into the down time.
“This is when you want to start playing your best football,” Swinney said.
Boyd is looking for a few more good days like that, especially when it comes to the state rival Gamecocks, who are looking for their record-setting fifth straight victories in a series first played in 1896.
“Obviously, the one thing everybody wants to accomplish here we haven’t done is beat South Carolina,” Boyd said. “I think everybody knows that in the back of their minds. But at the same time, it’ll get here when it gets here.
“We’ve just got to make the most out of what we can right now.”