Report: Watkins, Breeland bound for NFL draft

@Aaron_Brenner | Tiger Tracks on Facebook

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Late online reports Saturday night quoted sources as indicating Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland are set to declare for the NFL draft.

Both players are juniors. Clemson University is not expected to release any information until later Sunday or Monday.

Watkins, of course, is no surprise. His 101 catches, 1,464 yards and 12 catches landed him inside or tied for the top ten nationally in all three categories. After his sensational Orange Bowl MVP effort (16 catches, 227 yards), Watkins said he wasn’t ready to officially announce his intentions, but his comments and those of head coach Dabo Swinney made it clear this was his last game.

Bashaud BreelandBreeland isn’t a complete shock; he’s spoken before of being interested in going pro, and hasn’t spoken much with the media in the past couple of months. He was second-team all-ACC, developing into the Tigers’ most sound cover corner, and co-leading the team with four interceptions.

Paired with Darius Robinson’s graduation, this would deprive Clemson (11-2) of both its starting corners going into 2014. That opens opportunities for top reserves Garry Peters and Martin Jenkins, plus younger players like freshman nickel Korrin Wiggins and highly-touted Mackensie Alexander, who redshirted 2013 with a groin injury but has been participating in bowl practice.

In the locker room following Clemson’s 40-35 Orange Bowl victory Friday over Ohio State, four juniors – wide receiver Adam Humphries, defensive end Corey Crawford, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and safety Robert Smith – specifically told The Post and Courier they were returning for their senior seasons.

Of course, junior defensive end Vic Beasley and junior wide receiver Martavis Bryant are yet to announce their intentions. Linebacker Stephone Anthony is another name to remember in the coming days.


7 at 7: Mike Williams pushing Martavis Bryant for playing time, Danny Ford reflects on Bill McLellan, and what Syracuse defense does well

@Aaron_Brenner | Tiger Tracks on Facebook

CLEMSON – Typical Chad Morris: he’s at the point of expecting to be asked what went wrong after a 49-point victory, because elite is never enough.

Quite simply, Morris said in his weekly Monday sitdown with reporters, “There’s plenty to get better. We’re not going to spend the day patting them on the back.”

Among the complaints Clemson’s offensive coordinator had for his No. 16-rated scoring offense: “We’ve got to get cleared up in our run game. We had some snap issues. We gave up two sacks just by being soft, entirely too soft and not playing with technique. Our technique has got to get better on the offensive line. We’re going to keep pressing those guys. We had three drops.”

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7 at 7: Seven wrap-up notes from Clemson 56, Wake Forest 7, the most lopsided victory of Swinney’s career

Wake Forest Clemson Football

@Aaron_Brenner | Tiger Tracks on Facebook

CLEMSON – Was hoping to make this morning-after version of 7 at 7 one quote from each of the seven touchdown scorers yesterday; but we only talked to four of the seven.

So, instead, seven random notes which didn’t make the print notebook and are worth taking note:

1) Sammy Watkins licked his chops all week, knowing what was coming as early as the third play of the game.

“That was scripted as an early call, because No. 7 (Merritt Noel) and No. 9 (Kevin Johnson) are very aggressive at corner, and they will jump things,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “It was a little double move by Sammy; corner actually did a good job, but Sammy did a great job of running through the collision, and Tajh did an excellent job of keeping the ball inbounds where Sammy could go get it.

“Even if you don’t hit it, you send a message, as far as, hey, we’re going to take some shots.”

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7 at 7: Tajh Boyd’s swagger, Vic Beasley’s sack pace, and an Office Space reference

Tajh Boyd

@Aaron_Brenner | Tiger Tracks on Facebook

CLEMSON – I haven’t done nearly enough of these. To the blog readers: please, please hit me with your input. You can reach me at any link above: e-mail, Twitter or Facebook.

1) Tajh Boyd is one part philosopher, one part optimist.

The guy knows how to work a room; both when it’s time to drop some wisdom, and when it’s time to express some confidence.

“Being so much involved in the offense and being here for a while, we have expectations of what the offense is supposed to look like,” Boyd said.

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Behind Enemy Lines: Joe Giglio, Raleigh News and Observer

Richmond NC State Football

@Aaron_Brenner | Tiger Tracks on Facebook

CLEMSON — A day late, but definitely not a dollar short, for our weekly visit with an opposing team’s beat writer.

Joe Gigilo, who writes for the Raleigh News and Observer and Charlotte Observer, is today’s extraordinaire dishing on North Carolina State. No. 3 Clemson takes on the Wolfpack Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, and as always, we’ll host a live game blog throughout the evening on

Give Joe a follow here on Twitter.

Aaron Brenner, Tiger Tracks: It seemed like coach Dave Doeren and both NC State players at ACC Media Days carried a swagger about them. Has that been sustained into mid-September? 

Joe Giglio, News and Observer: There’s definitely a new-found confidence among the players. That was more apparent in the opener, a 40-14 win over Louisiana Tech, than the last game, a 23-21 comeback win over Richmond, but I think overall the players have been energized by Doeren and the new coaching staff.

Brenner: Really tough luck with the quarterback battle being decided by an injury. What does the Wolfpack expect out of Pete Thomas

Giglio: Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell was the clear-cut winner in August. He looked about as good as you could expect a fifth-year transfer in a new situation for two series. And then he broke a bone in his left foot.

Thomas has not been able to run the offense in rhythm the same way Mitchell did. He holds the ball too long and he’s not a threat to run the ball like Mitchell. That’s why freshman Bryant Shirreffs has been used to run the read option.

Brenner: How would you describe State’s offensive system, and how it might try to replicate last year’s 48-point outburst at Clemson? 

Giglio: N.C. State uses a lot of the same plays and formations as Clemson, with a little more emphasis on running the football. Doeren likes to say his offense is a combination of Oregon’s and Wisconsin’s.

I don’t think State will score 48 again or even the 37 from the win in 2011.

Brenner: On the flip side, what’s this year’s Pack got to do to not let Tajh Boyd and company rack up 62 points? 

Giglio: The secondary was terrible in last year’s game at Clemson. They didn’t have much help in front of them, either, from the linebackers. The win at Carter-Finley Stadium in 2011 was all about the pressure N.C. State’s front seven was able to put on Boyd, who without Sammy Watkins, wasn’t very good in that game.

Brenner: Would you say the 2011 Clemson upset or 2012 Florida State upset applies more when evaluating NC State’s chances of a shocker Thursday night? 

Giglio: The win over FSU last year was a bigger surprise than the win over Clemson in 2011 and this would qualify as a bigger shock, and win, than both. N.C. State is in rebuilding mode with a new coach and without an NFL quarterback for the first time in six years.