Dabo on winning without Sammy Watkins
CLEMSON — Saturday’s win clinched the Atlantic Division, making next week’s visit to N.C. State meaningless in terms of an ACC title. It also might give freshman star receiver Sammy Watkins a chance to heal after suffering a sprained shoulder.
Watkins suffered the shoulder sprain early in the second half and walked to the locker room under his own power; X-rays were negative.
“There’s not anything separated,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “I told him (jokingly) that he’s going to milk this thing for a while, I can tell. We’re really fortunate. You worry about that. Those are pretty common injuries in college football, and he’ll be sore for a couple days. We’ll see then how he is for next week.”
Watkins entered Saturday as the ACC’s all-time freshman leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. He finished with five catches for 62 yards, and became the fourth player in Clemson history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a season; Aaron Kelly was the last to accomplish the feat, in 2007.
He had 197 all-purpose yards on the day.
Fellow freshman Adam Humphries, Watkins’ backup, was stellar in relief. He had three catches for 24 yards, including an eight-yard catch on the final offensive play that set up Chandler Catanzaro’s 43-yard game-winning field goal.
“Adam Humphries can play,” Swinney said. “He rolled in like, ‘Let’s go.’ He was ready. We’ve seen him at practice every day doing that. That’s why he plays.”
Price sidelined, too: Fifth-year senior left tackle Phillip Price, an offensive line stalwart, left the game in the third quarter with a sprained knee, putting little weight on his right leg as he walked off the field. Price later used crutches to get to the locker room. Swinney said he believed Price had a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
“We’ll know more on him tomorrow,” Swinney said. “It’s not something that’ll keep him out the rest of the year. He’s really been a good player for us.”
Just don’t look: Senior defensive tackle Rennie Moore couldn’t bear to watch Catanzaro’s final field goal, he said.
“My buddy (defensive end) Corey Crawford was looking,” Moore said. “As soon as (Crawford) jumped, I didn’t know what he jumped for. He started jumping again, and I realized he made it. I just took a knee, said my prayer, thanked the Lord.”
Robinson injured in pregame: Sophomore cornerback Darius Robinson was sidelined after suffering a hamstring injury during pregame warm-ups. Robinson had emerged as a starter this season, making six starts in nine games. He has 17 tackles, a pass breakup and an interception.
Sweet senior day: Clemson honored 19 seniors playing in their final home game Saturday, but offensive guard Mason Cloy might have had the best day of his classmates. When Cloy reached the bottom of the hill – running solo, like all his teammates – he proposed to his girlfriend, Shannon Headley. She accepted.
Clemson became the first team in program history to finish a home season 7-0; the 1987 team finished 7-1. Swinney said his seniors’ attitude was a big reason why.
“They have had tremendous leadership,” he said. “I was not their head coach, they didn’t come to Clemson to play for me. It doesn’t matter what vision I have, what plan I have if people don’t buy into it. The players bought into the way we were going to do things.
“It’s incredible what those guys have done. I talked to the team and the seniors about, ‘Don’t just finish your career here. Finish as a champion. Leave a legacy.”