It was never the type of quarterback stat line that was going to garner headlines. 1 for 4, 7 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. That lone completion? It went to a young receiver by the name of DeAndre Hopkins. On Saturday that same QB will take the snap, hand the ball off, and then turn to the sideline for the next play. There his head coach will call a timeout and beckon to the quarterback. Then the young man will make the slow walk to the sideline.
As he starts off Dale Gilbert will announce, "Now entering the game, number 18 Cole Stoudt." We never will hear the end of that sentence. Instead it will be a roar from a hopefully still full Death Valley. A roar the stadium reserves for its heroes, the men who have accomplished much, who love the Clemson as much as those in the stands, and who will never take the field in Orange again.
It is the end of an era at Clemson. For all the excitement of the future, of five star recruits and the drive for a national title, there is still the unknown. There are no guarantees in college football; Clemson fans should know that better than anyone. All we can do is appreciate what we have, and for 60 minutes on Saturday we can enjoy one player's brilliance for one last time.
This weekend provides that one moment to remember when times were easier. Expectations were not as heavy then and disappointment wasn't quite as earth shattering as it has become in years past.
Too often we get caught up in the results in football. If only our team had scored one more touchdown, a receiver caught one more pass, a running back gained one more yard. Sometimes we forget to enjoy the journey. For Tajh Boyd that has been one hell of a journey, and on Saturday we get to enjoy it one last time.
I can sit here and talk about all the issues that Tajh has in his play, but this isn't the time for that. Instead I'd rather focus on what he has accomplished. Look at the Tajh fans saw in a disappointing Meineke Car Care Bowl loss in Charlotte and compare him to the leader we see today. Yes, there are flaws, but there are also improvements. Gone is the super skittish youngster who tried to rely solely on his athleticism to make throws. Now Boyd actually understands what is going on, and he also has a few guys to throw too.
We can also mention about how he looks on the field, but even his stats back up his ability. Boyd now holds the ACC record for touchdowns in a season, and he holds more QB records at Clemson than anyone else. Even with Chad Morris' offense, it requires a bit of talent to actually execute, and Boyd has done that for us.
But here we like to judge players on titles. How do 2 Atlantic Division titles strike your fancy? Yes, one of them doesn't count, but it still equals the number of titles the team won before Tajh was starting. There is also the fact that Tajh led Clemson to the first ACC title since 1991. We've had a bunch of talented teams over the years, but Tajh finally delivered on that promise.
Finally there was the moment Tajh put Clemson on his back and won the game. We tend to crucify quarterbacks that can't win the big games, but Tajh fought through a porous offensive line bent on destroying his dignity and will to live to deliver a Peach Bowl victory over LSU. He wasn't alone, but without him that victory doesn't happen.
As for that walk, it is only 25 yards. Twenty-five yards of green grass covered in orange and white paint. A simple distance to cover, but for Tajh Boyd it will be the longest walk of his life.
Enjoy Saturday, and even if you have things to do that are more important than checking an internet stream to watch Clemson manhandle the Citadel, spare few moments around 2pm. An era is ending at Clemson, and it is only fitting that we give it a more important glance than its beginning.
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