|AP Photo / Karl B DeBlaker|
|Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is one of the top candidates for this year's Heisman Trophy.|
It wasn't the most elegant win, but quarterback Tajh Boyd and Clemson came away with a 26-14 victory Thursday night at North Carolina State.
Boyd's performance in the ACC opener for both teams was efficient and workmanlike. He was 24-of-37 passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 38 yards. Boyd threw 13 picks last season but has thrown zero through three games in 2013. Since he became the Tigers' starter at the beginning of the 2011 season, this is only the second time he has gone three consecutive games without a pick.
Boyd completed passes to seven different receivers on Thursday and helped Clemson put up 414 total yards and 22 first downs. Still, the Tigers had only two lower yardage outputs last season: 295 yards in a 21-point win over Virginia Tech and 328 yards in a 10-point loss to South Carolina.
Clemson is known for its fast-paced offense and rarely puts together long scoring drives. But of the Tigers' five scoring drives Thursday (three resulting in TDs, two in field goals), three lasted at least 10 plays and another covered eight plays. Boyd didn't seem bothered by the Wolfpack's style of defense and generally took what the defense gave him. He didn't force the action downfield.
A big positive for the Tigers was the play of junior wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who had a career-high six receptions for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Bryant now has six TD receptions in his career, and three have come against North Carolina State.
This was the first game for the Tigers without starting wide receiver Charone Peake, who suffered a torn ACL in practice last week and will miss the rest of the season. Bryant filled the breach. He is athletic, fast and has great size (6 feet 5, 205 pounds), but his production never has matched his potential. If his performance Thursday is a harbinger, he should prove to be an able complement to star junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Watkins had 10 receptions for 96 yards on Thursday. He had a 28-yard catch, but for the most part, the Wolfpack were determined not to let Watkins beat them deep. Boyd completed four passes that covered at least 20 yards, but none went more than 28 and the Wolfpack did a solid job of limiting big plays.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.