Clemson has had its struggles early on this season. Adversity hit Clemson hard after a tough three-game stretch in which the Tigers faced Auburn, Miami and North Carolina, with two of those game being on the road.
Adversity hit even harder when Clemson lost all three games by a total of 17 points, and teams seized upon the lackluster passing game, with no consistent receivers to rely on Clemson's best receivers are a 235-pound running back with exceptional hands, and an athletic tight end opposing teams eventually phased out.
Hence, Tigers' opponents stacked the box and took away the running game.
Even North Carolina safety Deunta Williams said Clemson had no passing game, and there was no need to worry about having to defend Clemson's receivers too much.
Well Williams, there's a lot of football left to be played, and Clemson has shown that through their last two-game win streak over Maryland and Georgia Tech. The key element in both of these games was the emergence receiving threats that teams must now take into account.
It started in Week 6, when freshman Bryce McNeal, sophomore Jaron Brown and sensational true freshman Deandre Hopkins received first-team promotions. As a result, Clemson has won its last two games, thanks to a younger yet reliable cast of receivers thrust into the spotlight of Death Valley.
Looking at the receivers now, there is more to them than at the beginning of the season.
Brown and Hopkins are better targets at around 6'2" or 6'3" size, and both have underrated athletic ability, which has been evident by their ability to return punts. They have become better in downfield situations, with Hopkins nailing a one-handed catch last Saturday on a crucial third-down play.
McNeal has been working more out of the slot position, and has become more adept at catching the ball with Dwayne Allen out of the slot position. This combination gives more opportunity for mismatches on the inside.
The emergence of the passing game gives the offense more balance, and opens up the playbook for the offense to keep the defense off balance.
When Clemson faces Boston College, who remains winless in ACC play, the Tigers must continue to build upon their passing success. Boston College has done well against the run, and the continued success of passing the ball must continue in Chestnut Hill.
The passing game opens up the run, which in turn opens up the passing game even more, which ultimately keep the run open, which in turn will lead to an off-balance Boston College defense.
All in all, credit goes most of all to Head Coach Swinney, receivers coach Jeff Scott for great development and the players for making the plays when it counts.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!