CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Earlier this week, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney expressed concern about his cornerback play and paper-thin depth, exposed thanks to junior Martin Jenkins’ season-ending groin injury.
He and defensive coordinator Brent Venables might have found a solution in sophomore Garry Peters. Peters entered the game late in the first half in place of struggling junior Darius Robinson and played virtually the entire second half, making a game-sealing interception of BC quarterback Chase Rettig at the Clemson 12 with 5:40 to play.
“It’s whoever’s getting the job done at the time,” Peters said. “(Robinson) wasn’t feeling it so I went out there and took care of business for him. I felt like this was my opportunity, make or break, to step it up and play good or I wouldn’t. I stepped up, went out there and did a good job.”
He allowed a 42-yard touchdown to Alex Amidon – which might have left senior safety Rashard Hall as much at fault – and also committed a personal foul following an Amidon sideline catch.
But overall, he was impressive in his first extended action; Peters had played only 15 snaps in the season’s first four games.
“It was difficult,” Peters said. “(Robinson) and I are real close. He doesn’t have a problem with me playing, I don’t have a problem with him playing. I’m not a selfish guy. I took advantage of my opportunity.”
Swinney praised Peters’ abilities in press coverage.
“He’s a guy who hasn’t had as much opportunity, been waiting on his chance,” he said. “He got his opportunity and stepped up.”
Robinson’s benching was “performance-based, simple as that,” Swinney said.
“Towards the end of the game I went and talked with him,” Swinney said. “Nobody is happier for Garry than Darius. But he really made critical mistakes on outside leverage. Sometimes you’ve got to stand on the sideline. No.21 is a very good football player, and we haven’t lost any faith in him. We believe in him wholeheartedly.”
Boyd ties TD record: When Tajh Boyd plays his last game for Clemson, chances are he’ll leave a career touchdown record behind which will be very, very difficult to reach.
The Tigers’ junior quarterback tied a program career record with his 36-yard touchdown toss to DeAndre Hopkins. It was his 49th career touchdown, which tied Charlie Whitehurst’s mark, set from 2002-05.
Boyd is only five games into his junior season, giving him ample time to build the record before he graduates.
Sack attack: When linebacker Quandon Christian finished Boston College’s first second-half drive with a sack of Chase Rettig, it marked the Tigers’ second sack of the day, tying a season high.
The Tigers have struggled with pass rush, making that significant. Clemson entered with only two sacks from defensive linemen – one apiece by sophomore end Vic Beasley and sophomore tackle DeShawn Williams. Williams added his second sack of the season in the first quarter.
Beasley got his second sack in the second half, setting the new season high.
“Coach Swinney told us up front we’ve got to make a play,” Williams said. “We made a lot of plays and it showed… You get more pressure and you see what happens. One thing I saw was they’d get in shotgun and (Rettig) would drop extra yards. The pressure was getting at him.”
Sammy in sick bay: Swinney said he hoped to get Sammy Watkins back to practice this week after what he called a “very scary” situation. Watkins left practice early Tuesday and Wednesday, and bloodwork taken Thursday was “all out of whack,” Swinney said.
“He was a little better today and we’re real hopeful his bloodwork Monday will be back to normal.”
Swinney said Watkins was experiencing stomach pain this week and underwent X-rays, but it was unclear whether it was a virus or a trauma related to a hit.
“Thursday the doctors were calling and saying we’ve got a problem,” he said. “We’re really thankful for the medical team. But they said there was no way they’d let him get on that plane.”