Clemson got a huge win last weekend against then ranked No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs 38-35, but there is still cause for concern on the offensive side of the football. Tajh Boyd is everything you want in a quarterback but he did not get a lot of help from his receivers during that game except for Sammy Watkins. Watkins finished the game with six catches for 127 yards, which included a 77-yard touchdown reception. Other than that, the receivers were mediocre at best. Junior wide-out Charone Peake finished with a decent stat line that read 58 yards on five catches, but all but one of those catches came on screen passes. To give Peake some credit, the UGA defenders were giving him a big cushion so Boyd got the ball to him out in space quickly, but Clemson fans did not get a good look at Peake’s route-running ability. He did make one catch on third down in the fourth quarter in which he appeared to bobble the ball as he went out of bounds, but Boyd quickly moved to the line and got the ball snapped before the referees could review the play.
Other starting wide receiver Martavis Bryant had a game to forget as he dropped numerous balls that could have led to more points than just the 38 the Tigers tallied. Bryant is probably the fastest receiver on this team and his performance was disappointing, especially since all Clemson fans have been hearing was how he had such a good fall camp. You could tell that Bryant got down on himself and could not get out of the funk he was in. Adam Humphries caught only one pass for eight yards, but the pass did result in a first down. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris is going to need to see more out of this bunch because Watkins cannot carry the load by himself. UGA was playing soft coverage all night which allowed for the short, easy completions, but teams like Florida State will jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and make them change the direction of their route.
The young secondary by the Bulldogs was on display, but Clemson will play more physical secondaries in the weeks to come. When Clemson played FSU last year Watkins was held to 24 yards receiving on six catches, and that was due to Lamarcus Joyner and Co. jamming him at the line and throwing off the timing between Boyd and him. This weekend against South Carolina State, the Clemson receivers need to work on the little things such as running crisp routes, fundamental run and pass blocking, and catching the ball before you start to run with it. Bryant and Peake should get a lot of looks this weekend downfield so they can get their timing down with Boyd in a game situation.
Clemson freshman receivers Germone Hopper and Mike Williams will also get a good amount of playing time this weekend. Hopper redshirted last season while Williams is a true freshman who was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. Hopper is more of a speedster with Williams being a red zone threat with his 6-5 frame and good hands. If you are Morris, you do not want to open up the playbook completely this weekend, but you do want to get the receivers downfield and let them stretch their legs.
After the Tigers play the other Bulldogs this weekend they get a bye week before traveling to Raleigh, NC to take on a new-look NC State team on a Thursday night. The NC State game could be a possible trap game for Clemson, so the importance of the receivers to come out and play well this weekend is critical for the confidence and preparation going forward.
Travis Patterson, writer for the ACC on Rantsports.com. Follow on Twitter @tpat20, https://twitter.com/tpat20