CLEMSON — Bashaud Breeland didn’t have a flat screen TV to catch the action this past Saturday. He wasn’t pulling up live stats on his phone either.
Instead, he had to sit solitary in the locker room — with music going through his headphones — serving his first-half suspension for a targeting flag from the week before.
Against Florida State, the junior cornerback says he got to a play late, and too late for a pass deflection, came down for a hit off a leap that knocked helmets with Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston. Upon the automatic review, he was ejected per the call’s new punishment.
“I didn’t intentionally try to hit him helmet-to-helmet,” Breeland said, “but it happened in the heat of the moment. Going back looking at the film, it was the right call. The rule is the rule.”
The call was the first this season on Clemson, which can either go Breeland’s route via ejection or be overturned via replay, with the 15-yard penalty still enforced.
The Allendale native went on unfazed, forcing a key Terps’ turnover in the fourth quarter and tying for a team-lead in tackles (7). Breeland says he’s changed up his game to fit the rule now though.
“I’m really trying to wrap up instead of going for the big shot,” he said. “Making a form tackle and getting my head on the right side of the ball.”
Outside of the one misstep, Breeland has managed just fine this season, among the ACC’s leaders with 11 passes defended and one of five Tigers with 40 or more tackles (41).
That doesn’t make the transition any easier for him or any other NCAA defender.
“It is hard because you have to think more than react,” Breeland said. “Defensive players are trained to react to what the offense is doing. Now you have to think about how you’re going to get them down and at the same time think about the play that you’re trying to execute.”
WATKINS, THOMAS EARN ACC HONORS
After week eight of Tiger football, the conference backed him on it and added junior Tigers receiver Sammy Watkins to the mix in its player of the week honors.
Thomas posted a 90 percent grade in 93 offensive snaps against the Terps, in a third-straight 90-grade effort for the Spartanburg native. He had five knockdown blocks.
Watkins was a target early and often in College Park, matching his season-highs in catches and yards in the first half (10 and 127), and going on to a school-record 14 receptions for 163 yards. He had four catches of 20 or more yards in the game.
“I think we all know what Sammy has brought with his playmaking ability,” Morris said. “We’re extremely excited to see the level that he’s playing at.
“His ability to be moved all over the field, he’s doing a good job of reading coverages. Just adapting — whether we put him in the backfield, lining him up in the slot or outside — is a big plus for him.”
Reader breaks into starting group
READER STAYING BUSY
D.J. Reader is no stranger to a full schedule.
Reader did the rare, as a defensive tackle, football-baseball combination in his freshman year on campus.
Standing 6-2 325, he didn’t register a hit, but got on base a few times in the spring. In the prior fall, he had plenty of hits, leading the Tiger d-linemen in tackles per snap (.169).
He’s coming off his first career start Saturday, compiling 25 tackles and three for loss total at the season’s two-thirds mark. If that’s not enough, Reader, who played offensive guard in high school, is lining up in the backfield as an extra blocker in goal-line situations this season.
“I just like to stay busy and I just love the competition. I just thrive off competition,” Reader said.
He says he hasn’t worked out his baseball future just yet with Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett, but each sport has its challenges.
“(Baseball practice is) pretty demanding,” Reader said. “It seems longer than football practice because we’re constantly moving and doing stuff. (There’s) a lot of teaching in baseball practice and repetition. It’s tough in both sports.”