By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
When wide receiver Charone Peake went down with a season-ending injury in practice last Tuesday, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris looked over to freshmen Mike Williams and T.J. Green and told them it was time to step up.
“Those guys have to step up now and kind of be thrust more into a role,” Morris said Monday.
Adam Humphries, who normally backs up Sammy Watkins on the field side, will start in Peake’s spot when the third-ranked Tigers head to Raleigh. N.C., Thursday night to face undefeated NC State in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both schools. Peake was second on the team with eight catches for 84 yards and a touchdown before going down with a torn ACL.
Humphries, who has started five games in his career, gives Clemson a sure-handed possession guy at wide receiver, but what the Tigers lose is a playmaker in Peake and depth as well. Germone Hopper will be the first guy into spell Humphries in the slot, while Williams and Green will come in at different times and play the slot as well.
Morris is glad to see Hopper coming off a good game against SC State to build his confidence. The redshirt freshman had six catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns in the Clemson win.
“It was good to see him get that confidence and play at a high level last week,” Morris said. “You hate this for Charone, but it is going to give someone else the opportunity to step up. From a depth standpoint it puts us in a bind, but we will be okay from that.”
Morris says Humphries will be fine as the starter in the slot position. The only reason the junior has not been a regular starter is due to his versatility to play any position.
“With Charone being comfortable and has kind of gotten into that role of that starting job, Adam had the versatility to play anywhere,” Morris said. “Adam gave us that quality backup at different positions and with Charone with the size and the speed and the way he was playing was really having a good start for us.”
Humphries currently ranks third on the Clemson team with seven receptions for 53 yards through two games. He is averaging 7.6 yards per reception.
“We all know what Adam is capable of doing and what he has done for us in each of his first two seasons,” Morris said. “He is very versatile. He is extremely intelligent and has a great feel for the game and knows how to get open.
“We would not have won the games we have won without Adam Humphries my first two years because he is that much of a threat for us and is very dependable. He definitely provides miss-matches and I’m excited to see that for him. You will see Adam play all over the field.”
As for Williams and Green, Morris has liked what he has seen out of both of the freshmen thus far and feels both young players will help the team now they are needed even more.
“They both play extremely fast,” Morris said. “T.J. is very physical and is probably one of the more physical receivers that we have. It is just learning to play fast. You have to think a little bit and you have to think on your feet.
“Anytime you put a true freshman on the field, you are going to have mistakes. They are going to make mistakes. It is a growing process. You have to be patient with them and that will come. They are going to be very good players for us, it’s just it is going to take some time, but unfortunately they are going to have to play and play a whole lot earlier and more often than we were anticipating.”
Morris says both Williams and Green have the opportunity to change a game, though, with the way they play and how physical they are.
“We just have to make sure they know where they are supposed to be and when they are supposed to be there.”