Double Trouble: State's Tom O'Brien says two 'NFL receivers' set Tigers apart

Wolfpack coach says DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins will test his improving secondary

Clemson football - Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson football - Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington

Double trouble.

That's what Tom O'Brien sees when he looks at Clemson's wide receivers, and that's part of what he says sets the Tigers apart from other high-powered, fast-paced offenses.

"Everybody seems to have a feature guy, and then there's the other guys," said the Wolfpack head coach on Wednesday during the ACC coaches' teleconference.

The Tigers break the mold, he said, by lining up both DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.

"These are two top rated guys, and that's where all the stress comes in on the defense is that they have two guys that get in the seams or get down the field, double moves, things like that coming off play action fakes that gets the ball deep, and they can run by you," said O'Brien.

O'Brien said the trouble doesn't stop there, however.

"It's not only those two, but as I said before, you've got the quarterback and tailback to deal with at the same time," he said. "They got a quarterback that can beat you with arm or legs, tailbacks who catch the ball and run with it, and the same thing with their wide receivers.

"There's not any one area that you say they're weak in. They're strong in all areas, and they put a lot of pressure on your defense."

Earlier in the season, the Wolfpack gave up numerous big plays in the passing game, while playing both man and zone coverage. O'Brien said his team has improved, out of necessity.

"It's something that had to get fixed if we were going to succeed," he said. "From the opening game (Tennessee) we got stung a little bit that way, but I think the kids have done a little better job from that point on.

"But this will be as big a challenge as we've had this year, especially with throwing the football to two guys that are quality NFL receivers basically."

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