ACC insider: Turnovers hurt Clemson's Boyd

Clemson needs quarterback Tajh Boyd to return to early-season form if it wants to defeat South Carolina and reach 10 wins for the first time since 1990.

Boyd has thrown six interceptions in the past three games after throwing only three in the first eight. Those picks are part of the reason why the Tigers are 1-2 in that stretch after their 8-0 start.

He played perhaps the worst game of his career Saturday.

With freshman receiver Sammy Watkins was out with a shoulder injury, North Carolina State held Boyd to 238 yards passing and intercepted him twice in a 37-13 victory.

Clemson also lost two fumbles, giving them five in the past three games.

“I think there’s a frustration level there,” Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “I think he’s getting frustrated because he wants to be at that high level and he’s trying to figure out how to get back to that high level. ... There’s a frustration level with him in that regard, but he is a competitor. That’s the one thing I appreciate about Tajh. But he’ll be back, there’s no doubt. We’ve got to get him back into that mindset he was in earlier in the year.”

Watkins, who has set ACC freshman records with 68 catches for 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns, should be back for Saturday’s game at South Carolina, which will help Boyd. But South Carolina is second in the country against the pass (137.6 yards per game), fifth in total defense (279.5) and 19th in scoring (19.4 points).

Plus, the Gamecocks have defeated Clemson two of the past three years, the first time that has happened since they won three consecutive in 1968-70.

“The effort is good. It’s unquestioned. Our execution has not been as good,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We executed at a high level in the first eight games, but in the last few weeks we haven’t. We’re not a 5-6 football team. We’re a 9-2 football team. We just played poorly in the last few weeks.

“It further solidifies what you teach. When we execute our plan to win, we’ve won. When we’ve gone against that, we’ve lost.”

Burning question

Why do Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and first-year Florida coach Will Muschamp co-own a house?

The two rival coaches, whose teams play each other Saturday, have a friendship that dates to when both were assistants on Nick Saban’s staff at LSU. They bought, and still co-own, a beach house in Panama City, Fla., although Fisher said they’ve never vacationed there together.

“We both wanted a place at the beach,” he said. “Both were coordinators, and we didn’t want to spend all that money to get a place. You wanted to be down there, so you divided it and you split your time when you were there.”

Muschamp was asked this week about selling his share in the house now that he and Fisher coach at rival in-state schools.

“Have you seen the market up there?” Muschamp joked. “You want to buy it? It’s a buyer’s market. You’re more than welcome. Come on. Jimbo will cut you a heckuva deal.”

Even though both the Seminoles and Gators are eligible for bowls, they are both wrapping up disappointing seasons. FSU dropped to 7-4 after losing to Virginia 14-13 on Saturday, and Florida (6-5) struggled to defeat Furman for its second victory in seven games.

In focus

It took most of the season, but North Carolina State’s defense is playing well, thanks in large part to the return of tackles Thomas Teal and J.R. Sweezy.

Teal missed seven games and Sweezy missed four with foot injuries, depleting the Wolfpack’s depth up front. Combined with other injuries, N.C. State has been forced to start eight different lineups in 11 games.

“As long as we have all our guys, I feel like we have one of the best teams out there,” linebacker Terrell Manning said recently.

Finally healthy, N.C. State (6-5) has shut out North Carolina 13-0, lost 14-10 to Boston College and shut down Clemson 37-13 the past three weeks.

The Wolfpack have allowed an average of 36 yards rushing in those games and lead the FBS (formerly Division I-A) in interceptions with 22, including 11 from cornerback David Amerson, who leads the nation.

Redshirt freshman end Art Norman (Chamblee) and freshman tackle T.Y. McGill (Wayne County) helped fill the void until other players returned from injuries. Norman was the ACC’s rookie of the week after he had four tackles, three sacks and caused a fumble in the Wolfpack’s win over Clemson.

Etc.

Florida State’s Shawn Powell (Darlington) leads the nation in punting at 47.6 yards. He didn’t qualify for the NCAA statistics until this week because he hadn’t punted enough, but he had six in Saturday’s loss to Virginia and has averaged 3.6 per game, which is the cut off. ... Clemson linebacker Corico Hawkins (Baldwin) has 60 tackles, fifth most on the team, and tackle Rennie Moore (Camden County) has 49 tackles and three sacks. ... Virginia Tech defensive back Detrick Bonner (Luella) has started two games and has 18 tackles. ... Terence Davis (Brookwood) is Wake Forest’s fourth-leading receiver with 17 catches for 240 yards. He also has four touchdown catches, which is second on the team.

Quotable

“There doesn’t have to be any fake hype or fake talk, anything like that. We don’t need any Twitter account stuff, Facebook stuff, going back and forth. We’re in-state rivals, and it would be characterized to say that’s how they feel about us and we feel about them.” — Virginia coach Mike London on Saturday’s game against Virginia Tech

“We’ve got to deal with it and move on,” — Miami quarterback Jacory Harris on the Hurricanes not going to a bowl because of the university’s self-imposed ban

By the numbers

2 Boston College's wins against ACC teams with red as a part of their uniforms (Maryland and North Carolina State). The Eagles are 0-5 against the rest of the conference.

12 ACC-record consecutive road victories for Virginia Tech, which can clinch the Coastal Division with a victory at Virginia on Saturday. It's the longest road winning streak in the nation.

Schedule

Friday

Boston College at Miami, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

Saturday

Georgia at Georgia Tech, noon (ESPN)

Maryland at North Carolina State, 12:30 p.m. (WUPA)

Virginia Tech at Virginia, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

Vanderbilt at Wake Forest, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Duke at North Carolina, 3:30 p.m. (FSSO)

Florida State at Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Clemson at South Carolina, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN)