CLEMSON, S.C. -- Tajh Boyd was 20-for-30 for 264 yards and three touchdowns in his debut as Clemson's starter, leading the Tigers to a 43-19 season-opening win over Troy on Saturday.
Boyd had a shaky first half running offensive coordinator Chad Morris' faster new spread set, and the Tigers were booed as they left the field down 16-13 at half. But Boyd came back out and led Clemson on two third-quarter touchdown drives, going 11-for-13 for 142 yards.
A couple of freshmen played key roles for the Tigers.
In all, freshmen gained 266 of Clemson's 468 yards.
The Trojans have won five straight Sun Belt Conference titles but haven't beaten a BCS team since knocking off Oklahoma State in 2007. Clemson has never lost to a Sun Belt team.
This is a critical season for Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. He brought the Tigers to their first ever Atlantic Coast Conference title game in 2009, but followed that up with Clemson's first losing season since 1998.
This season also started out rough. Clemson's first half left already-anxious Tigers fans hot and angry. Clemson was 0-for-8 on third-down conversions and had just four first downs. Boyd looked uncomfortable in the pocket with several bad throws and a few near-interceptions broken up by his receivers.
But the Tigers first third-down conversion of the day seemed to give Boyd the confidence he had been lacking. He made a nice throw just over the shoulder of wide-open tight end Dwayne Allen for a 54-yard touchdown that put Clemson up for good at 20-16 with 6:56 to go in the third quarter.
The Tigers finally seemed to grasp Morris' offense on the next drive. Boyd completed all nine of his passes, broken up by a few nifty runs by Andre Ellington. Boyd ended the drive with his best pass of the day, threading a ball through two defenders to Jaron Brown for a 7-yard score that put Clemson ahead 26-16 just before the end of the third quarter.
Boyd completed 13 passes in a row at one point in the second half. But he was stuffed twice by Troy's defense while trying to sneak in for a fourth-quarter touchdown and finished the day with minus-7 yards rushing on 11 attempts.
Ellington ran 18 times for 89 yards. Freshman quarterback Cole Stoudt came in late in the fourth quarter and led the Tigers on a 42-yard touchdown drive where only freshmen ran or caught the ball. The drive ended on a 1-yard TD run by D.J. Howard.
Clemson kicker Chad Catanzaro made three field goals, all 45 yards or more, but he missed an extra point.
Troy had 13 different receivers catch passes, led by Eric Thomas' three catches for 63 yards.
Nike Men's Clemson Tigers Orange Football Icon Legend T-ShirtShop
Josh Boutte lost his starting job just two quarters into last season, but after an impressive spring he's positioned for a bounce-back year.
Who has the best receiving corps in the ACC? It starts with Clemson and Florida State.
Bills first-round draft pick Shaq Lawson explains how the Clemson program prepared him for the NFL, the importance of his versatility in Buffalo's defense and says he doesn't need surgery on his shoulder.
Bills first-round draft pick Shaq Lawson tells Hannah Storm why he was so excited to get the call from Buffalo and his relationship with coach Rex Ryan.
If healthy, Sefo Liufau should be the starter at quarterback for Colorado. If Liufau isn't ready to go, though, transfer Davis Webb could be the guy.
With spring practice in the rearview mirror, the Cornhuskers' youth movements along both lines are well underway.