Sammy Watkins is Clemson’s best receiver but off an season arrest for marijuana possession has cost the receiver a shot at the Auburn Tigers and he will be out week two versus Ball State. When Sammy plays he is the best Wide receiver in the ACC and every Clemson fan wants to know if the Clemson Tigers can survive without their ultimate play maker.
DeAndre Hopkins is the other receiver at Clemson, and on any other team Hopkins would be a number one receiver. Clemson plays in such a high octane offense that Hopkins caught 72 balls last year for 798 yards. That was good enough for 4th in the ACC and playing with the leagues number 2 receiver in terms of yards with Watkins.
There are several questions about the tigers offense without Watkins in the game that will be interesting to watch unfold as auburn will be motivated to show their defense was not as bad as it appeared last fall when the tigers torched them.
How will Hopkins react to be the primary focus from the Auburn secondary? There is a huge difference in being the main target and the one who can match up on the defenses second or third best cover person. Hopkins benefited from both Watkins and Dewayne Allen, now in the NFL, putting pressure on the defense and you may see Auburn rolling coverages his way until Clemson has another receiver prove they can make plays to beat them.
Can Tajh Boyd make enough plays with his legs and arm to off set Watkin’s absence? Boyd is arguably the ACC’s best signal caller, but Watkins is such a security blanket that the auburn game will be a game where we see how much growth he has made this off season. He too relied on Allen as a big target in the middle. Chad Morris’ offense is explosive, but can he find enough wrinkles to keep the ball enough because Clemson’s defense just got scored on again by West Virginia.
The Tigers with an improved defense is my pick to win the Atlantic division title and a win against Auburn with Sammy Watkins on the bench will be a giant step in that direction.