1.) How much do you think Tajh Boyd will play this weekend? Is playing him the right move at this point in the season? Would you rather the coaches let him take over the QB job full time?
The coaches apparently met with Boyd for about 30 minutes on Monday and told him to "be ready" this Saturday so you would expect him to see the field this week. His playing time will probably include 3-4 series in the game barring an extraordinary performance by Tajh or an absolutely terrible outing by Kyle Parker.
I would definitely like to see Boyd get more playing time at this point in the season. Let’s face it, this season is pretty much over for the Tigers. We are pretty much buried in the Atlantic Division and are (again) staring down a mid-range to pitiful bowl game. Parker will be playing baseball next fall and we need a quarterback. I would like to see Boyd get these reps to prepare for next season as he is almost guaranteed to be the head man come August ‘11.
The one thing that I don’t want to happen is for Boyd to be thrown directly into the fire before he is ready. I believe (and he has openly stated) that a red shirt for Tajh and 2/3 of a season as the backup has been good for him. He has taken the time to learn more about the game and this offense and has also gotten the opportunity to gain perspective about being a college quarterback. Boyd has a ton of talent and needs the experience but should not lose confidence playing this late in the year. Thus, I have to say no to the full time starter question but yes to getting him a lot of playing time over the next four games.
2.) Why is it that Kyle Parker isn't getting better?
That is a great question. I think that Kyle’s confidence may have been shaken early on by all the dropped passes that we saw out of our receivers. Kyle does not seem comfortable in the pocket and has had "happy feet" many times during this season. On top of that, Kyle has had a few issues with accuracy which, combined with the dropped passes, represent a lot of missed opportunities for this offense to date. Our offensive play calling has also been suspect at times this year, and this does not help getting your quarterback going either.
3.) What does Andre Ellington's absence do to the ground game? Will Jamie Harper take all of the carries, or do you expect another back to step in and split the work?
Well, this staff is hell-bent on getting Jamie Harper the ball, so you will see him get his fair share of the touched this week. Harper has played a lot this season, even opening the year as the co-starter with Ellington. I also suspect you will see Roderick "Hot Rod" McDowell this week. McDowell is a RS Freshman from Sumter who was a highly ranked RB coming out of high school. McDowell has seen limited playing time this year but excited a lot of folks last off-season. I will be interested to see this young man as he spells Harper this Saturday but Harper should see the majority of the snaps.
4.) It seems like I've seen a lot of frustration from Tigers fans about playcalling, Ellington not getting enough touches, that sort of thing. Are you upset with the way the offense has been managed by Clemson's coaching staff?
Yeah, our offense is a damn circus. Clemson has done a poor job in the play calling arena. Clemson has gained no rhythm and looks discombobulated week in and week out. There have been many rumors that have surfaced regarding Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s offensive perspective compared with Offensive Coordinator Billy Napier’s. We suspect that Dabo has been meddling in the play calling including several unnecessary "trick plays" that were called at extremely inopportune times during a couple of Clemson’s losses. Combine that with an insistence to throw the ball after Ellington has proven to be a very capable back, poor personnel decisions at the running back/wide receiver positions, and the inexperience between the head coach/off coordinator and it is difficult not to be upset/disappointed with what we have seen so far this season.
5.) Da'Quan Bowers is a very scary man. How will Clemson utilize his talents? Will he shift around much?
Clemson has shown a variety of fronts this season (over, under, 3-man front, etc…) so I would expect more of the same out of the Tigers on Saturday and consequently you will see adjustments by the defensive line. As far as strategy goes, I think the staff just wants Bowers to go out and be fundamentally sound on HIS particular obligations. Bowers has had his best season at Clemson this season largely because he has played good fundamental football and only worried about his assignments. He is as good as any end in America and really has a phenomenal combination of speed and power so if he stays true fundamentally and executes his basic assignments I believe our staff will be happy.