Mike Reed’s first crack at Chad Morris’ offense went to plan and more in 2011.
With Sammy Watkins sidelined (shoulder), his Wolfpack secondary picked off two Tajh Boyd passes and didn’t allow a score through the air in a 37-13 upset of the No. 7 Tigers.
Morris and the Clemson offense more than made up for it come Nov. 17, 2012.
By halftime, Boyd eclipsed his passing yard total in Raliegh and accounted for five of his ACC-record eight touchdowns, on his way to a school-record 426 passing yards.
“The tempo of the game is something you couldn’t simulate,” Reed said. “You can’t simulate the tempo that Clemson runs their offense yet with our guys on the scout team – because we don’t do it.”
Facing Clemson offense a nightmare
Reed got taste last season at State
“They’re substituting receivers,” he continued, “and I’ve got DBs that have been in the game 30 plays straight. And I’m like, ‘Wow, play Cover 2,’ but unfortunately you can’t play the whole thing Cover 2 because coach Morris is smart enough to say they’ll run a bunch of Cover 2 – let’s do this.”
“You can’t make a mistake.”
Reed is reminded of the game more often than he would like now that he’s switched sides.
“They still show that game around (the WestZone) often,” said Reed, “and I’m like, ‘Man, why do y’all keep showing that game.’”
The Boston College grad got his first taste of the Clemson area as a cornerback on the Carolina Panthers in 1995, playing their inaugural season at Memorial Stadium.
And the Tiger ties continued on after his playing career – friends with former Clemson defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison and a former Panthers assistant and Tigers defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
“I always used to make jokes with (Harbison) and coach Steele, because coach Steele coached me my first year with the Carolina Panthers,” Reed said. “I’d tell Cheese, ‘You need to leave so I can go down there and coach Clemson.’”
As the top-10 Tigers met top-10 Florida State last year on national TV, the same thought went through his mind, sitting with his wife on the couch, after his former team had dispatched The Citadel 52-14 earlier in the day.
“‘Man, (Clemson) is one of the places I’d like to coach at,’” Reed recalled saying to his spouse. “I may be a little different, but I’ve always envisioned myself coaching at different places. My wife goes, ‘That’d be kind of neat to coach there.’
“For one, she likes the color orange.”
TigerTown traditions especially caught his eye, especially The Hill.
“There are certain things you want to do before you die,” Reed said. “That’s one where I was like, ‘Man, I’d like to see what it’s like to run down The Hill and coach at Clemson.’”
He says for years he wondered why exactly recruits picked the school, but now he gets it.
“The pageantry and tradition – recruiting against Clemson for so long,” said Reed. “I always wondered, ‘Why are kids going to Clemson? What is it about Clemson?’
“When you get here, you see why.”