After dropping eight passes in last week’s win over Troy, Ray Ray McCloud said the past six days were a little difficult for the Clemson wide receivers.
Head coach Dabo Swinney made it his own personal mission to make sure there will not be a repeat performance this season.
“He had his foot up all of us this week,” McCloud said.
And it worked. In all, third-ranked Clemson had nine receivers catch passes in Saturday’s 59-0 victory over S.C. State, while only two balls hit the ground.
“He really worked us hard at practice from catching the ball to finishing plays and handing the balls to the refs,” said McCloud, who led the Tigers with four catches for 60 yards and two touchdowns. “That’s what we went out there and did today and we played like we are supposed to play.
“As a group, we had a great game.”
It wasn’t just McCloud that was catching touchdown passes. Deon Cain, Trevion Thompson and Diondre Overton also caught touchdowns. Overton, a freshman, hauled in a 45-yard scoring pass from backup quarterback Nick Schuessler in the first quarter.
“Last week we were a few drops away from playing really well. Our guys responded by going out and having fun today,” Clemson wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said.
“We really challenged that group. It is not an ability issue. It is a focus and a mental intensity and staying locked in and having great focus on the football,” he continued. “That’s really were drops come from. That was a big emphasis for us all week as we coach those guys up. Having great focus and being locked in and not getting distracted.”
The players knew the coaches were serious about all of that when Swinney came over and stayed with them all week. It’s not uncommon for Swinney, a former wide receiver and wide receivers coach, to come over and coach that group, but this past week he was on them all week.
“We knew it was time to tighten up. We could see the vibe from him and it was time to tighten up,” McCloud said. “He did not like the way we were playing and we had to step it up in the receiving room. So we did.”
Scott said he liked the way the players handled things in practice and how they responded on Saturday.
“They were very coachable. They got coached hard this week, but they all responded,” he said. “They know. They have a lot of pride in how they play. They know what our standard is at this position at Clemson, and I think they stepped up and it showed today.”
Though the Tigers were able to turn things around and catch 20 of the 27 completions on Saturday, McCloud knows that’s not the last they will see of Swinney at practice. And you know what, he is okay with that.
“That’s why all the DBs say, ‘he likes ya’ll better’ and this and that. He was a receivers coach and whatnot, and he is the best I have ever been around,” McCloud said with a smile.
—Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports