Who has to step up after “big loss” of Charone Peake?

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner | Tiger Tracks on Facebook

CLEMSON — Well, that dateline’s a little misleading. We had a meeting of the minds Wednesday at the Post and Courier, some prep work for the rest of the season. Always nice to make a trip to the mothership, in such a lovely city…

The day, however, was not as pleasant for WR Charone Peake, who suffered a season-ending knee injury when he tore his ACL in Tuesday evening’s practice. It was a non-contact play; just an unfortunate occurrence during the first NC State prep session.

Peake was doing a nice job in the early goings in that Jaron Brown role; catching some intermediate routes and running the occasional deep pattern, while showing nice footwork and hands on his 3-yard touchdown catch from Cole Stoudt against S.C. State.

“This is a big loss. Charone was having a great year and was going to have a great year,” head coach Dabo Swinney said in a release. “We are thin at receiver with just six scholarship players now. We like to carry 10 at that position. We have good players, but we don’t have a lot of bodies.”

So what now for the Tigers? The issue is, they like running lots of multiple sets, which requires depth at the position. Like Swinney said, the talent is more plentiful than the depth, and that’s going to put offensive coordinator Chad Morris and wide receivers coach/whiz kid Jeff Scott to the test. Luckily, No. 3-ranked Clemson’s got a full week, not two or three days, to adjust the gameplan against the Wolf Pack.

You already know about Sammy Watkins, and probably about Martavis Bryant. Here’s who else you need to get acquainted with to fill Brown’s ‘field’ role at receiver (career stats):

Adam HumphriesNo. 13 Adam Humphries, jr., 5-11, 190 (63 catches, 463 yards, 1 TD): No, Humphries doesn’t replace Peake’s 6-3, 200-pound measurables. That’s four inches down the doctor’s office yardstick on the wall. But here’s a spin-cycle stat for you: in the past three years, only one man not named Watkins or DeAndre Hopkins has caught more than 40 balls in a season at Clemson. That man was named Peake’s replacement by Swinney on Wednesday. Big, big task for Humphries (41, 280 and 1 last year) going forward, who at least has some playing experience – and that’s more than the next few options can say.

No. 5 Germone Hopper, fr., 6-0, 180 (6 catches, 66 yards, 2 TDs): In one career game, Hopper has more touchdowns than Humphries does in 29. So there’s that. Of course, it was in the second half of a blowout against S.C. State. ACC games are at another level. Is Hopper ready to break out? All depends on his preparation this summer.

No. 7 Mike Williams, fr., 6-3, 205 (2 catches, 18 yards): Ahem. Direct quote time from Tajh Boyd on Aug. 10: “Aw, Mike Williams is gonna be a DAWG. He’s going to be a sick player, man. Honestly for me, he’s got to be one of the better in-the-air ball control guys that we’ve got right now. Still young, still understanding and learning what’s going on, but he’s been making some tremendous plays for us.” That was in intrasquad scrimmages. High praise, but like Hopper, the lights just got brighter.

No. 82 T.J. Green, fr., 6-3, 195 (1 catch, minus-4 yards): The obligatory name-dropping of the last scholarship receiver. Not likely to fill this role.

No. 81 Stanton Seckinger, so., 6-4, 230 (8 catch, 85 yards, 2 TDs): Well, he is a former receiver. And he’s got the size like Peake does. Even though Seckinger’s a beefier dude now that he’s trained at tight end, that’d make him real effective in downfield blocking. And as Jordan Leggett lamented slash pointed out the other day, Clemson’s got three working tight ends (soon to be four, if Sam Cooper’s truly ready to return), and while none are stone-cold studs, they all have different capabilities. Just a thought.

-AB

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