Clemson football team tries to get back on track after losing season

Clemson tries to turn it around after losing year
Clemson sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd (right) takes over as the starter from Kyle Parker. Boyd welcomes the fast-paced offense that has been installed by new offensive coordinator Chad Morris. The Tigers hope to run off 85 to 90 snaps a game.

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson right tackle Landon Walker saw something change early on offense that sunk the Tigers in 2010.

Clemson held a 17-0 lead last September at Auburn, a game that if the Tigers won might have changed the entire complexion of the college football season. Instead, Auburn and Cam Newton rallied for a 27-24 overtime win as part of their national championship year.

Clemson, stung by the defeat, could not recover on the way to its first losing season, at 6-7, in 12 years.

“I hate to say we got used to losing. It’s more like we forgot what it was like to win,” Walker said. “It’s something you can’t let happen. Once you forget how to win, it’s hard to get back there.”

That’s the goal this season for Clemson, which only two years ago played for an Atlantic Coast Conference championship as a league divisional winner. But an offense that couldn’t be stopped struggled to score points minus stars like tailback C.J. Spiller and receiver Jacoby Ford. Two-sport quarterback Kyle Parker took a hard shot to the ribs from Auburn safety Mike McNeal in that contest and was barely the same.

Once tailback and the team’s touchdown leader Andre Ellington got hurt in a 16-10 loss at Boston College, the Tigers’ offense was all but finished. They managed just 64 points their last four regular season games, including defeats to Florida State (16-13) and rival South Carolina (29-7).

Head coach Dabo Swinney knew something had to change. He revamped his offensive staff, getting rid of coordinator Billy Napier and hiring Chad Morris from Tulsa.

Perhaps the biggest question for the Tigers offense is the performance of first-time starter Tajh Boyd. The sophomore picked Clemson over Ohio State and Oregon back in 2009, yet had largely sat behind Parker the last two years.

Boyd said he’s put the work during film sessions and picked Morris’ brain when possible about the fast-paced system. Morris hopes to cram in up to 85 or 90 offensive snaps a game.

SCHEDULE

SEPT. 3: Troy, 3:30 p.m.

SEPT. 10: Wofford, 3:30 p.m.

SEPT. 17: Auburn, noon (ABC-Ch. 6)

SEPT. 24: Florida State, TBA

OCT. 1: at Virginia Tech, TBA

OCT. 8: Boston College, TBA

OCT. 15: at Maryland, TBA

OCT. 22: North Carolina, TBA

OCT. 29: at Georgia Tech, TBA

NOV. 12: Wake Forest, TBA

NOV. 19: at N.C. State, TBA

NOV. 26: at South Carolina, TBA


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