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Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Clemson gets Watkins back into groove

By Andrea Adelson

Clemson got one chance to integrate Sammy Watkins into its offense before its huge showdown against No.4 Florida State on Saturday.

So how did the No. 10 Tigers target him and leading receiver DeAndre Hopkins last week in the passing game against Furman? According to ESPN Stats & Information, Tajh Boyd targeted Watkins four times and Hopkins eight times.

The result? Watkins caught all four of his passes for 52 yards. All his receptions came on receiver screen passes behind the line, so he actually amassed 60 yards after the catch. Watkins also had a 58-yard touchdown run on his only carry of the game.

As for Hopkins, he caught seven passes for 95 yards. On the season, Boyd is 26-of-29 for 319 yards and four touchdowns when targeting Hopkins.

“You try to go with the hot hand,” Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “The one thing about what we do offensively is it has so many answers built in, so you may call one play and because of the way the defense is playing you, the ball may go to someone else. If you called to get it to one particular person, the way they’re playing you, the ball gets sent to someone else.”

Last season against Florida State, the Noles did not have much of an answer for Watkins, who had seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdown catches in a 35-30 Clemson win. After the Noles cut the Tigers' lead to 28-23 early in the fourth quarter, Watkins essentially put the game out of reach with his 62-yard touchdown reception.

That game also was the fourth of the season for the Tigers, and Watkins had yet to truly make his name, as it was only his fourth career game. Watkins is not sneaking up on anybody now. Clemson is expecting Florida State to play press coverage on its receivers, something Morris has talked to his guys about this week.

The Tigers know they have to win those battles if Watkins and Hopkins are going to spring free to make the big plays they are known for.