Filling in the blanks

CLEMSON - When Charone Peake went down with a torn ACL on a non-contact injury last week, it robbed Clemson's wide receiver corps of an emerging presence.

The former four-star recruit had become a capable part of the Tigers' passing game, with eight receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown through two games.

As Clemson prepares for Thursday's 7:30 p.m., ESPN-televised trip to N.C. State, offensive coordinator Chad Morris is feeling the ripple effects of Peake's injury down the depth chart. Junior Adam Humphries will take his former Dorman teammate's starting role, but a trio of freshmen will be expected to make big contributions as well.

With only six healthy scholarship receivers, Morris has no choice in the matter.

"What it does now is it gives someone else an opportunity to come in – that guy being Adam Humphries," Morris said Monday. "Adam will be a guy that will come in and be the starter now. We all know what Adam's capable of doing. What it does, it hurts us from a depth standpoint.

"But you ask your Mike Williams and T.J. Greens, those guys have got to step up now and be thrust more into a role. G-Hop (Germone Hopper) will become the first guy in, where we had Adam with Charone. It was good to see G-Hop get the confidence and play at a high level last week (making six catches for 66 yards and two scores), so that's the biggest thing. You hate that for Charone, it's going to give someone else an opportunity to step up. From a depth standpoint it puts us in a bind. But we'll be OK with that."

Humphries has 53 career receptions for 463 yards and one touchdown; Morris said his overall versatility allowed coaches to place Peake in the starting lineup.

"With Charone being comfortable, he's gotten into that role of earning the starting job, Adam had the versatility to play anywhere," he said. "And so Adam gave us that quality backup at different positions, and obviously Charone with the size, the speed, the way he's playing, it was a good start for us this year."

Humphries, of course, is more than ready to handle a starting role. He has five starts in 29 career games.

"I think we all know what Adam's capable of doing and what he's done for us in each of his first two seasons," Morris said. "He's very versatile and extremely intelligent, He's got a great feel for the game and knows how to get open. We wouldn't have won the games we've won without Adam Humphries my first two years here. Because he's that much of a threat for us, very dependable. He provides mismatches and I'm excited to see that for him."

Hopper might be the biggest beneficiary of increased playing time; he had a breakout game against South Carolina State with his first two career touchdown catches. Morris said he has earned responsibility.

"I'm glad to see he had the success he had. He's had a really good work week, all that stuff that goes with it," he said. "G-Hop is a guy who needed to have a good fall camp. He needed to earn the trust of our coaches, earn the trust of our teammates, and he did that in fall camp.

"We knew his time was coming, G-Hop's as explosive a player as we've got. We're excited about him. Now he's playing with more confidence. He walks different when he's in the office. He feels good about himself in some areas. He's got to continue to play well, play physical. You'll see that. He's a young guy who's trying to figure it all out."

Some more thoughts from Morris' Monday media session:

On the unusual rhythms of playing a Thursday game – Clemson will practice Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and travel to Raleigh Wednesday:
"For us, this was like a Wednesday. I didn't even know I had a press conference. I really thought it was a Wednesday. Do a good job of relaying that to our players. The way we practiced, we strained them really hard last week and kind of got back into a game routine on a Saturday. That's good to see. The biggest thing, talking to our guys and going through practice, we had some really good practices the last few days. It's just, they're ready, they want to get into a flow of a season, they want to get into a rhythm, a routine. And that's the thing right now that hopefully Thursday night we can get this thing back into a routine and get going and get into a flow of it."

On N.C. State's new-look defense:
"They are doing some things different. What you've seen is a team that played very base the first two weeks and come away with two wins. They too had an open week just like we did, so there's going to be some things we know we haven't seen on video that we're going to see. Feel like there's going to be some things we haven't seen they're going to present to us. They played about as base as you can play the first 2 weeks.

"We've got to pick up whatever comes our way. Against our defense, we've seen just about everything. I couldn't imagine what else they could do. We're not necessarily anticipating a different base look but there's some more pressures they could do, they haven't shown to be a big pressure team. We anticipate it to be just the opposite. I think you'll see some guys up front, their defensive line is as good a defensive front as we've seen this year. Their two interior guys, going back and watching film on them from last year to this year, they've slimmed down and play exceptionally hard, very well-coached. That's one thing we've got to do, be able to pick up and disrupt their movement because they do a lot of things up front."

On the ugly 37-13 loss in Raleigh two years ago:
"We went up there two years ago, it was like a snowball rolling downhill. It just got bigger and bigger and bigger. We turned it over, gave our defense a short field to work off of, put our defense in a bind and could never get it turned around. We missed a couple of reads going in on the first or second drive, had we given a ball, we would have scored it might have been the difference in the game. Who knows? Get up there, playing on a road in a hostile environment like they have, their crowd is going to be excited. We've got to do what we do, got to play, manage the game, be able to move the chains."

On Stanton Seckinger being elevated to No.1 on the TE depth chart:
"Stanton provides a big mismatch. He's got great speed, he' s a tough kid, he moves well. You're still going to see Coop (Sam Cooper), you're still going to see Darrell (Smith). You hope to keep bringing Jordan Leggett along because he's got all that, he's got the size, the speed, he's got to get the toughness. He's working on it. He'll get there. He's a true freshman. We know what we're getting in Darrell and Sam."

On the offensive line:
"I think we've had some really good practices over the last 10 days. We pushed them, we strained them, we taxed them in some areas to see how they would respond. I think they responded pretty good. The biggest thing right now is we've got to get some continuity. We've got a game under our belt, essentially, a game with our starting group.

"We got a little bit of that second game, a quarter, a quarter and a half. We've got to be able to get some continuity and get into a flow of the game with all of them. That's what I'm hoping to get out of this game, get these guys in there and get going. We've developed some depth in our offensive line and that's good to see."

On Tajh Boyd taking check-down throws in Morris' offense:
"Just take what they give you. And you can't go broke making a profit. Five yards is a profit. You can't go broke taking a profit. That's not the attractive throw. Everyone wants to make the attractive throw, the ooh and ahh, and the wow. That's an ugly throw but it picks up 10, 12, 15, 18 and it moves the chains.

"And that's the hardest thing. You ask any quarterback, and talking to coaches all across the country, that's the biggest thing with those guys, just take they give you. You can't go broke taking a profit. If I've said that once, we've said it a million times. They've got to see it. If they see it on film, they go, ‘Coach, I don't know why I didn't do it.' Well, you weren't looking , you weren't thinking, you were trying to make that big throw when you had underneath wide open. You do that, the big throws are going to come."

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