Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Midseason report: Clemson
By ESPN.com staff
Record: 6-0, 3-0 ACC
With a first-year starting quarterback and a first-year offensive coordinator, there were plenty of reasons to doubt Clemson heading into this season, but the Tigers erased them in the first half of the season with three straight wins over ranked opponents. Clemson went 3-0 against championship row, defeating defending national champ Auburn, defending Atlantic Division champ Florida State, and defending ACC champ Virginia Tech on the road. Coming off a losing season, Clemson couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. The addition of offensive coordinator Chad Morris might have been the best hire of the offseason in the ACC. The new, up-tempo offense has kept defenses off-balance all season, and Morris got the players to buy into it early. The Tigers are reaping the rewards, as they have the upper hand in the Atlantic Division race and are the ACC’s top-ranked team. One of the biggest reasons for their success has been a variety of options at the skill position, and quarterback Tajh Boyd’s ability to effectively manage the game. Clemson got a brief scare when Boyd left the Boston College game early with a hip injury last week, but all indications from within the program since then are that the star quarterback won’t miss any game time. Clemson’s defense, led by end Andre Branch, has showed steady improvement over the past few weeks, and those within the program say the Tigers have yet to reach their peak.
Offensive MVP: Quarterback Tajh Boyd. Boyd has been on a record-setting pace this season. He ranks first in the ACC in passing yards per game (290) and total offense (310.3) and is second in touchdown passes (15). He has completed 119 of 194 pass attempts for 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He ranks 14th in the nation in total offense and 16th in passing efficiency.
Defensive MVP: Defensive end Andre Branch. He is tied for 15th in the country in tackles for loss (1.58 per game and 9.5 overall) and he is tied for seventh in the country in sacks (six). He is second on the team with 39 tackles, which is unusual for a defensive lineman. He also has one pass breakup, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.