And twice the Tigers have returned with a win.
It would appear that Clemson's high-powered, up-tempo offense hasn't skipped a beat when Watkins is watching on TV. Credit that to the superb play of DeAndre Hopkins, who's made a strong case to be the nation's premier No. 2 receiver.
"I feel like I've proven, so far, that I can step up and make plays for this team whenever I need it," Hopkins said, after Saturday night's 45-31 win at Boston College. "This is only the fifth game of the season, so I can't speak too soon."
But his play just won't shut up. Through five games, Hopkins has 42 catches for 604 yards and six touchdowns.
Oh, by the way, he set school records in the games away from home that Watkins has missed.
In the season opener against Auburn, Hopkins had 13 catches. He set the new mark for receiving yards in a game on Saturday .
Game breaking work aside, Hopkins insisted that everyone shares the load equally.
"Everybody feels like they have to step up when Sammy's not here," he said. "Everybody is on the same scholarship. All these wide receivers can make plays, and the running backs and quarterbacks.
"We all feel that we have to step up and make plays for this team."
Hopkins added, "It's the same mindset that we have every week. We feel like no matter who is here, we have to step up and make plays.
"We're very capable of making plays without me, Sammy, Jaron [Brown] or anybody here --Martavis [Bryant] didn't play, and people don't really notice that. These wide receivers, we're a tight bunch of guys.
"We feel like we can all step up and make plays, no matter what the circumstances."
Tajh Boyd is more than happy to have Hopkins to look to when Watkins isn't around.
"He's an unbelievable player," Boyd said, referring to Hopkins. "I love playing with him."
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris is also a fan.
"I'm proud for him, Tajh and those guys," he said. "That young man continues to show up to play, as a lot of them do."
No Sammy, no problem
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