Tajh Boyd summoned his teammates to reassure them.
As the quarterback, Boyd felt it was his place to anticipate the potential for fraying and divisiveness when Clemson was booted from the top 10 after the loss to Florida State.
“Being the quarterback of this team, you’re not just the leader of the offense,” Boyd said Tuesday.
“Regardless of the situation, that loss goes on this team collectively as a unit,” he said. “There’s no need for anything to try to divide us.”
Clemson led by 10 points midway through the third quarter but Florida State scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions in the second half. A 90-yard kickoff return set the stage for one, the others when the defense was gashed on drives of 75, 64 and 77 yards. After responding to the first with a field goal, Clemson failed the next three possessions to get a first down.
“There were opportunities in every part to finish the game,” Boyd said. “We just didn’t do it.”
Down by 11, the game was still within grasp when he threw an interception.
“This is a selfless game,” Boyd said. “You can’t go out there for personal reasons or personal ambitions, because you’re not out there alone.”
Clemson plays Saturday at Boston College, a team and a location that have been trouble. Five of the seven games since BC joined the ACC have been decided by a touchdown or less, and the Eagles hold a 6-5-1 advantage on their bucolic Chestnut Hill campus.
Boston College (1-2) lost to Miami and Northwestern, but the Eagles lead the ACC in pass offense. Quarterback Chase Rettig is the passing leader, averaging 317 yards per game.
“I want to see our team respond like a champion,” said coach Dabo Swinney, when asked about the players-only meeting. “I was anxious to see yesterday just how would these guys respond.
“I really liked the look in their eyes. They weren’t happy. They were disappointed.”
Swinney and Boyd’s teammates applauded his initiative.
“I kind of got the sense around the team that we were not really settled,” center Dalton Freeman said. “I think it was a good job by Tajh to come in and step up and say, ‘You know what, everything is OK. There is no need to jump ship. Everything is going to work out.’ ”
Swinney again referenced the team’s youth and his hope the younger players would mature.
“We’ve got so much opportunity to go ahead and have a very good season,” he said. “When we look back in November, we’ll look back and see a lot of growth.
“We’re not a great team right now, but I do think we have a chance to improve in a lot of areas because we’re going to have to. I like how they responded yesterday. That is a good sign when you see the hurt in their eyes because you know they care.”
Among Boyd’s concerns was allowing the effects of the Florida State game to linger. Clemson allowed 667 yards to the No. 4 team in the nation. Twelve years ago, Clemson gave up 771 to a Florida State team that played Oklahoma for the national championship. Clemson won nine games and ranked 16th.
“I feel like we have the opportunity to do something special this season,” he said. “You don’t want one loss to affect you to the point that it just ruins everything for you.”