Few teams have suffered as tough a loss as Clemson did Saturday at Florida State, but the future appears a bit brighter as freshman phenom Deshaun Watson takes over from Cole Stoudt as the Tigers' QB. How did the loss affect the team's morale, and how might Watson's emergence change the offense? We caught up with wide receiver Charone Peake to get some answers.
David Hale: The Florida State game had to be one of the most emotionally draining ones you've been a part of. As the team watched the film, what was the mentality? Were you down about the loss or pleased with the strong performance?
Charone Peake: We were really proud of ourselves because we played such a good game. The outcome was different. It was not what we wanted. But overall, we played a really good game. And we took it like if we play like that every game, we feel like we can't be beat. We have to play with that effort every game.
Hale: How did the change at quarterback after the first few series impact the offense?
Peake: It wasn't much of a transition. We're used to playing with Cole and Deshaun. But coaches have to do what they have to do. They were playing the hot guy. The receivers are used to it and we knew we had to catch the ball no matter who was throwing it.
Hale: You've played with Tajh Boyd and Cole. Does having a true freshman take over the offense change things? How prepared do you think Deshaun is for the starting job?
Peake: It's going to definitely be different, but I'm really confident in him and I'm looking forward to seeing what he'll do Saturday. He played a lot of snaps this past Saturday, so a start won't be any different. He'll just be able to start the game this time.
Hale: Can you dig into the entire playbook with Deshaun or will he be limited early on?
Peake: Actually I think it's the same for both of them. It doesn't make a difference who is in. We have a standard regardless, and no matter who is in, we're going to run our plays regardless.
Hale: How do you feel like Deshaun handled himself against Florida State?
Peake: He never seemed frustrated. He's a calm and collected quarterback, like good quarterbacks have to be. He was prepared for the moment and he took advantage of it. We just didn't get the outcome we wanted.
Hale: You guys lost some talented receivers from last year's team. How is this group coming along? There were some tremendous catches made against FSU.
Peake: Definitely. When I was hurt, I did a lot of observing of the other wideouts and I could tell they were ready to play. When the young guys came in in the spring they were ready to play. They had a really good camp. And I could just tell from watching him they would be ready to play when it was game time. They've worked hard, on and off the field.
Hale: How is your health? Have you played like you'd hoped so far this year?
Peake: I'm healthy, and I feel like I'm having a good year. We're doing a lot of rotating, and that was expected because we have so many receivers, and you have to get us all on the field. We bring so much to the table.
Hale: You knew going into the season that you'd be tested in September. With two early losses, is there a concern that there's not much left to play for?
Peake: September doesn't determine our season. We look at it as it'll be a November to remember. It's really time to work, and the regular season ends in November. We have to have a winning streak going to where September doesn't matter anymore.
Hale: Clemson had a chance to win against both Georgia and Florida State. Do you take confidence from that or frustration from the fact that you couldn't pull it out?
Peake: We don't really look at it like that. We know we could've beaten both those teams, but it didn't happen and it's over with now. But those two games will help us in the long run.
Hale: This week's opponent, North Carolina, allowed nearly 800 yards of offense last week. Is this a good opportunity for you to right the ship?
Peake: It's a nameless, faceless opponent. No matter who it is, we have to perform to a standard we set. It doesn't matter what they did last week. They could come out and play a totally different game against us.
Hale: As you get ready for this week with Deshaun making his first start, do the veterans on the offense like yourself need to rally around him to make sure he's ready?
Peake: Most of our offense is veteran guys, so we have to have his back and make sure he's calm and comfortable. He's a true freshman, so you never know what to expect. So we have to keep him calm and keep his head in the game. But he's handled himself well since he's been here. He's done a good job on and off the field. He's a hard worker, and I expect a lot of great things from him from here on out.