Friday, October 12, 2012

Paging Mr. Watkins


Lets go back to August 30, 2012, the evening before the Auburn game. At that point the banter and conjecturing was still in full swing. If we had played a name that stat line using the Clemson receivers whose name would you put by the above stats? If it had been me, I would have put Sammy Watkins with the 49 receptions and Martavis Bryant with the 16.

With the two game suspension that would have meant that Watkins would be averaging 12 catches a game and 194 yards per contests.  The Sammy for Heisman campaign would be in full effect!!!
The above stat line represents the accomplishments of Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins through six games for the Clemson Tigers. How many people had Sammy Watkins having only 16 catches and no receiving touchdowns through 4 games after sitting out the first two games?

Many Clemson people will call it a sophomore jinx. That stems from the plethora of Tiger freshmen that have come out like gangbusters only to fall off the face of the earth during their second year. Having spent time around the program during the previous administration, a lot of that had to do with the time and effort put in by the student-athlete than a jinx of some sort.

Call me ignorant or Pollyanna if you must but I honestly believe there is something different about Sammy Watkins. I sincerely believe he did above and beyond what he expected of himself in preparation for the 2012 season. Sammy’s lack of production can be attributed to several factors that need to be discussed.

Many overestimated the impact of missing the first two games, myself included. You can practice all you want, but game speed is a different beast. I know Coach Swinney said he only spent one week with the scout team but still it is not the same. When Watkins did return he only played one half against Furman. The following week against Florida State, it is hard to expect someone who has played one half of football to do Sammy-like things against one of the best defenses in the country. The following week, he comes down with a virus and is unable to make the trip to Boston College. Last week against Georgia Tech it is hard to expect someone who was as sick as he was be a large factor.

You also have to acknowledge that defensive coordinators are scheming for Sammy. Did you see the Georgia Tech defense last week? Wherever Sammy was the whole Yellow Jacket defense was sure to follow. I think you will continue to see this throughout the season.

The key is getting Sammy back into a rhythm, he has not played two consecutive games where he has played four quarters of football all season. He has to integrate himself into this offense that in 2012 is being led by DeAndre Hopkins and Tajh Boyd. There is certainly a place for Hopkins in this offense and his big play potential will be needed in the second half.

I expect to see Watkins come on during the second half as he plays more football on consecutive weeks. I am eager to see if the staff is able to implement some of the things they learned from visiting Oklahoma State during the offseason in how to isolate Watkins or Hopkins in one-on-one situations. He is too good of an athlete to not get it going at some point.

Don’t give up on Sammy yet. He will come up big for this team before the season concludes.

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