MOBILE, Ala. – Every year there are one or more quarterbacks participating in the Senior Bowl ripe with questions about their size or their arm strength, and this year Clemson’s Tajh Boyd is one of them.
Despite leading the Tigers to a thrilling upset of Ohio State in the Orange Bowl and helping them finish just outside of the top 10 in the final BCS standings, Boyd still knows he has some work to do this week in Mobile. His goal is to silence the doubters and remind them of the current success stories in the NFL like Russell Wilson with the Seattle Seahawks and Colin Kaepernick with San Francisco.
“I feel like the game of football is evolving,” said Boyd, who threw for 11,904 yards and 107 touchdowns in 40 career games at Clemson. “It’s not so much a systematic or just a pro style, because I feel like every offense at some point or another implements that type of [running style] in their offense. The Falcons do it. Matt Ryan just doesn’t run as much but they’ve got that in their arsenal and they have that in their playbook. … So whatever I think a coach has on his roster he’s going to adjust to it. He’s not going to force a guy to play in his system if it’s not built for him, so whatever team I play for I’m going to learn the system as well as possible and just try to make the most out of it.”
Boyd’s versatility was on full display at Sun Life Stadium against the Buckeyes when he completed 31-of-40 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns and added 127 yards and a touchdown on the ground on 20 carries. He set an Orange Bowl record for total yards with 505 and teamed up with wide receiver Sammy Watkins 16 times for a bowl record 227 yards and two touchdowns.
As much as he likes to see how Wilson’s, Kaepernick’s and Washington Redskin quarterback Robert Griffin III’s running ability has helped them so far at the next level, Boyd isn’t ready to concede that he is made precisely in the same mold. The confidence he has in his arm both in terms of range and accuracy is palpable and he feels that he can adapt to whatever style is asked of him, even if it’s to be a pocket passer.
“I feel like it’s just not as much as it used to be, though obviously you’ve got your Tom Brady’s and your Peyton Manning’s,” Boyd said. “You can sit there and talk about Andrew Luck but Andrew Luck can run with the best of them, he just doesn’t get that stigma. You’ve got to be competitive and you’ve got to be athletic in the game these days because defensive ends are running 4.4s out here, so you’ve got to be able to move a little bit unless your line is just a stonewall. I’m more of a passer anyways. I don’t really like to run as much, so if I can sit back there and throw the ball, that’d be great with me.”
IRON BOWL MEMORIES
Perhaps the most exciting play in all of football – college or pro – took place in Jordan-Hare Stadium at Auburn University at the end of the classic Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama. It was Chris Davis’ 109-yard return of a missed Crimson Tide field goal as time expired, lifting the Tigers to an improbable 34-28 win and eventually a spot in the BCS national championship.
This week, the combatants are teammates on the South Team with four players from each school and none of them have forgotten that finish. Of course depending on which jersey you were wearing, the memory of that epic play when the 57-yard kick by Alabama’s Adam Griffith landed short left a different lasting impression.
“It was a very long kick and people were coming up to me like, ‘Can he make it?’ And I knew with some adrenaline in the biggest game there is ever he could sure get it there,” said Auburn kicker Cody Parkey, who is from Jupiter. “I never like to see a kicker miss but obviously I want to win. He kicked it a little short, which was in our favor, and Chris is one heck of a returner and he somehow found some seams and went down the sideline and it’s a blur from there. … It was my last game at Jordan-Hare but I certainly enjoyed it.”
Alabama defensive end Ed Stinson would rather forget that play entirely, especially since he was on the field as part of the field goal unit. The last thing the Homestead native expected was to find himself trying to run down the speedy Davis with the game on the line.
“I was the right wing. I had a bad angle,” Stinson said. “I took a bad angle because I thought it was going, so I stopped and I looked and it all was like slow motion to me. I just saw him walking down the sideline and I was like, ‘Oh no.’ I’m going to remember that game, but I just got tired of them replaying it over and over.”
Stinson added that it was tough for him to watch Auburn and FSU play at the Rose Bowl for the BCS national championship and admitted and that he and his teammates felt they could have “done some damage” to the Seminoles.
THIS AND THAT
Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has created a buzz through three practices so far with his accuracy and his delivery, and at 6-foot-3 and 222 pounds he has the prototypical build for an NFL quarterback. His passes had a little more zip on them today with less wind blowing through Ladd-Peebles Stadium and he seemed to have better rhythm having played in the East-West Shrine Bowl last week … Whereas yesterday’s impact player came on defense, today it was Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon who drew the most oohs and aahs with his breakaway speed after turning the corner. … There are three hometown boys from Mobile playing in this game – Auburn fullback Jay Prosch, Florida wide receiver Solomon Patton and Northern Illinois safety Jimmy Ward. They used to come out to the practices as kids looking for autographs and Ward actually came to one of the games and remembers that he only watched about two minutes of the game because he was running around playing football. …
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I finally got put into the guard position today, which is where I think I’m going to end up playing and where I like to play. I didn’t get to play it all throughout college but did in high school and I like playing guard. I like getting in there and mauling people and running them off the ball like I did today in the run game. I think I showed a big improvement today even though it was my first day playing guard. If I would have been at guard the whole time I think I would have been doing extremely well after getting the technique figured out.” – North Dakota State offensive lineman Billy Turner, who at 6-5 and 316 is listed as a tackle on the South Team’s roster