Chad Morris came to Clemson riding on the idea of the “smash-mouth” spread.
Well…that’s been a gradual process and he instead has made the most of talented receiver options bestowed upon him by recruiting.
The last two seasons, the Tiger offense ranks second in the ACC in pass attempts (999) and first in pass impact (302 yards per game – the best by 34 YPG) with 10 more touchdown receptions than anybody else in the conference.
Taking a look at the individual returning leaders…
Top-5 ACC Active Leaders
1. Sammy Watkins (Clemson) – 6 receptions per game/83.8 YPG/15 TDs
2. Stefon Diggs (Maryland) – 4.9 RPG/77.1 YPG/6 TDs
3. Rashad Greene (Florida State) – 4.1 RPG/58.1 YPG/13 TDs
4. Quinshad Davis (UNC) – 5.1 RPG/64.7 YPG/5 TDs
5. Jamison Crowder (Duke) – 3.6 RPG/49.5 YPG/9 TDs
And the tops last year…
2012 Returning Leaders v. FBS Opponents (Per CFB Stats)
1. Alex Amidon (Boston College) – 72 rec./101 YPG/15.4 yards per reception/6 TDs
2. Jamison Crowder (Duke) – 69 rec./82.5 YPG/14.4 YPR/7 TDs
3. Stefon Diggs (Maryland) – 51 rec./81.8 YPG/16 YPR/6 TDs
4. Michael Campanaro (Wake Forest) – 70 rec./74.1 YPG/9.5 YPR/5 TDs
5. Sammy Watkins (Clemson) – 53 rec./72.9 YPG/12.4 YPR/3 TDs
All three of Watkins’ 2012 touchdowns came against FBS teams, and just against ACC opponents, Watkins averaged a third-best 88 yards and second-best seven receptions a game during a tumultuous season.
BC’s Amidon and Duke’s Crowder came out of nowhere. Amidon racked up 68.4 percent of his career catches (78) and yards (1,210) and 70 percent of his touchdowns (7) in ’12.
Crowder upped it even more – 84.4 of the catches (76), 86.8 of the yards and 88.9 of the touchdowns (8).
Projecting the ACC WRs
(If you haven’t been around with us before, the rankings are based on production/field impact – not a straight measure of their abilities like a NFL draft board. We’re looking at not only the player’s ability, but the surrounding cast that can help him get the W's and numbers.)
1) Clemson – Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake
Outlook: Only Virginia Tech (22.2) has a less percentage of 2012 receiving yards returning than Clemson (41.1), but armed with Watkins and a generally pass-happy scheme – the Tigers should plug in the replacements with little drop-off.
2) Florida State – Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin
Outlook: Redshirt freshman and presumed starter Jameis Winston will have plenty of options this fall – led by the playmaking Rashad Greene (57 catches – 741 yards – 6 TDs in 2012). Another target to watch is the 6’5 Kelvin Benjamin, who averaged 16.5 yards per catch with four scores as a freshman last season.
3) UNC – Quinshad Davis
Outlook: Upstate product Quinshad Davis (Gaffney), after a late NCAA clearance (mid-August), set both the UNC single-game record for receptions (16) and the freshman record for total catches (61) starting the final 10 games of 2012. Back from injury, sophomore T.J. Thorpe, who totaled 960 kick return yards as a freshman in 2011, should provide a boost along with returning starter Sean Tapley (361 yards/5 TDs in 2012).
4) Miami – Phillip Dorsett
Outlook: Miami has the ACC’s top running back (Duke Johnson), but they will still throw the ball around the yard and have multiple outlets to do so. Their top-two receivers return, in Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott, who combined for almost 40 percent of Miami’s yards (38.2 – 1,354) with seven touchdowns.
5) Boston College – Alex Amidon
Outlook: The Eagles return a – by far in the ACC – best 91.7 percent of its receiving yards from last season and their top-four receivers. They are led by the aforementioned Amidon, but BC is the only ACC team that will return four wide receivers who had 20-plus catches in 2012.
6) Virginia – Darius Jennings, Tim Smith
Outlook: The Wahoos bring back a trio of upperclassmen starters for whoever wins its QB battle in Tim Smith (senior: 20 catches/405 yards/4 TDs), Darius Jennings (junior: 48 catches/568 yards/5 TDs) and Dominique Terrell (junior: 38 catches/475 yards in 2012).
7) Wake Forest – WR Michael Campanaro
Outlook: Senior Michael Campanaro is the ACC’s active leader in receptions (162) by 23 catches and is third in receiving yards (1,703). The challenge for a Deacs’ offense that struggled last year (91st in passing offense) is finding a reliable second (and third) option.
8) Maryland – Stefon Diggs
Outlook: Stefon Diggs, a five-star prospect coming in, was another one-man show in College Park despite Maryland having a linebacker at at QB by the end of the season. Diggs still managed to average 15.7 yards per reception and haul in six scores. 2012 second option Marcus Leak edged Diggs in YPR (17.1), but he is sitting out the 2013 campaign on his own accord due to “personal issues.” Incoming New Mexico transfer Deon Long will provide a boost though, after compiling 809 yards (17.2 YPR) and four touchdowns in 2011.
9) N.C. State – Quintin Payton
Outlook: In transition from pass-happy pro-style to a run-geared spread, one of the better passing offenses in recent years will take a hit replacing Mike Glennon at QB. T.L. Hanna product Quintin Payton leads the group after a team-best 798 receiving yards last season. Junior Bryan Underwood was a touchdown magnet in 2012 with 10 scores and is second among ACC active leaders in the stat (12).
10) Pittsburgh – Devin Street
Outlook: The Panthers have the top incoming receiver, by expansion, in Devin Street, who racked up 975 yards on 73 grabs. But that’s where the conversation ends for a Pitt team transitioning to a new conference with a QB competition ongoing and losing almost 50 percent of its ’12 receiving yards (48.5).
11) Duke – Jamison Crowder
Outlook: Much like the previous team on the list, Duke has the speedy top target Jamison Crowder and question marks everywhere else. After being pass-happy of late, the Blue Devils are going to a more run-centered attack in ’13.
12) Virginia Tech – Demetri Knowles, D.J. Coles
Outlook: Logan Thomas didn’t have a good year throwing the ball in 2012 (51.3 completion percentage), but he had to more with a lack of a running game. The best thing that could happen for the Hokies is an improved running game to take the pressure off Thomas and which in turn ups the passing effectiveness.
13) Syracuse – Jarrod West
Outlook: The ‘Cuse lose their top passer, top-two receivers and their offensive coordinator headed to the ACC. If they can run effectively, they will stick to it and they also have a couple go-to, non-WR options in tight end Beckett Wales (389 rec. yards/2 TDs in 2012) and running back Prince Tyson-Gulley (282 rec. yards/2 TDs).
14) Georgia Tech – Darren Waller
Outlook: Leading returning receiver Darren Waller hauled in eight catches for 162 yards (no touchdowns) last season. Six ACC teams have four wide receivers back who had more. At 6-5 and pretty fast, Waller should get a lot more looks this season, but in this offense, the ceiling is pretty limited.