What could he have done with 6-3 speedy Charone Peake at the same position? The junior had tallied eight catches for 84 yards and a score through two games to start the year before suffering a torn ACL in practice.
Last Saturday, Humphries had one catch for 12 yards, while Joyner went on to a night that included two forced fumbles, an interception and a sack.
Tigers looking for No. 2 WR
“(Peake) made some good strides last year for us,” Swinney said of the Dorman product. “Man, he was poised for a big year – and he was off to a good start already. It definitely hurt us. He’s a great player – fastest guy we have on the team. To lose that additional guy has been a bit of an issue.”
Indeed a smaller problem until facing the Seminoles, Humphries had slid into the No. 2 role, behind No. 2 ( Sammy Watkins), with career-highs in yards (Syracuse – 118), touchdown receptions (Syracuse – 2) and receptions (Boston College – 9). Humphries has played the highest percentage of receiver snaps (63.4) in the last five games.
Having every defense's full attention, the star junior Watkins has hauled in 70 percent of the balls thrown his way this season, with four 100-yard receiving efforts and five touchdown receptions. Humphries and Watkins have combined to make up about 40 percent of the passing game production.
“(Knowing) I’ve got to make plays is a good thing knowing the ball is coming to me,” Watkins said. “A lot of young guys have to step up on the field because they’re running good coverages trying to eliminate me touching the ball. Martavis (Bryant) and a lot of receivers have to make a lot of plays now.”
And Watkins believes that’s going click soon.
“They just have to get back in the gameplan and focus on the details,” he said. “I think further in the year they’re going to start getting better.”
Thrust into action with mixed results have been the freshman trio of Germone Hopper (behind Humphries), Mike Williams (behind Bryant) and T.J. Green (behind Watkins). Combined they’ve averaged four catches for 30 yards per game, with three scores.
“Now you’re playing some freshmen in a little bit bigger role than you would like to,” Swinney said. “I’m really pleased with Mike Williams. He’s played really good. He’s graded really good. He just froze up in a couple situations the other night.”
Lately, Williams has had a little bigger piece of the playing-time pie opposite the junior Bryant – on the field 42 percent of the snaps the last six games. After breaking out for two scores at N.C. State, Bryant had to serve a half-game suspension and has since been an inconsistent threat. He’s averaged two catches per game, maintaining a solid 20.2 yards per grab (Bryant’s ranked seventh in the ACC overall in yards per catch, 18.1).
“I think (Martavis) has been doing well – he just hasn’t got many opportunities,” Humphries said. “I’ve been doing what I can on offense and special teams. Obviously Sammy is going to be the main guy and we just have to have a lot of our younger guys step up and contribute.”
For the sixth time in the last 21 games, Clemson will play on an artificial surface at Maryland’s Byrd Stadium, which has been a friendly track for Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd.
The senior signal-caller is 5-0 all-time, including wins over Auburn and LSU in the Georgia Dome last season and Syracuse earlier this year.
He is averaging 360 passing yards (9.6 per attempt) with a 72.2 completion percentage, throwing for 13 touchdowns to four interceptions.
Maryland is 4-0 playing in its home state season, with three wins in Byrd Stadium and a neutral site ‘W’ over West Virginia (37-0) in Baltimore.
They have averaged 490 yards and 38.5 points per game, while allowing only 296.5 yards and 11.5 points.
“We’ve played better here at home,” Terps coach Randy Edsall said. “You’re always more comfortable at home. You’re in your own locker room, your own surroundings. We’ve had great support here, and hopefully we can continue that.”
GOOD LUCK, N.C. STATE
Swinney was asked on a weekly ACC media teleconference if he had any advice for N.C. State as they head to Florida State this weekend. The coach didn’t have much help to offer the four-touchdown-plus underdog
“Hey, I’ve got my own problems,” said Swinney. “I’ve got enough problems right now, but you’re going to have to play a complete football game. You don’t have a lot of room for error if you’re going to beat Florida State.”