Just as Martavis Bryant was hitting his stride, he's been temporarily sidelined by a momentary lapse of judgment.
Bryant, Clemson's junior wide receiver whose two touchdown catches helped lift the third-ranked Tigers past N.C. State last Thursday, faces disciplinary action, including a loss of playing time, for making what coach Dabo Swinney described as an "unacceptable gesture."
Swinney said he was unaware of the incident at the time it occurred, and that the officials missed it as well. Swinney took action after watching a television replay that showed Bryant making a 'throat slash' gesture after his second touchdown put Clemson on top 26-7 early in the fourth quarter.
"Martavis will play this weekend, but it will affect his playing time," Swinney said. "He made an unacceptable gesture after scoring a touchdown, and nobody even knew about it until after the game. It's one of those things that's not representative of what we want, so there will be some team discipline involved."
Bryant, a graduate of T.L. Hanna High, was suspended from the Tigers' bowl game last December because of study hall absences, but came back in the spring and has been a model student and teammate, according to his coaches.
"He's still growing up, and this is one of those situations," Swinney said. "It was just unacceptable behavior, and he knew it. I wish I had seen it, and I wish the refs had called a flag. There's no better punishment than immediate punishment. That's not the way we do things, and I don't think he'll do it again."
Bryant's situation will likely mean more playing time for freshmen receivers Mike Williams, T.J. Green and Germone Hopper this week against Wake Forest.
The disciplinary action is the second taken by Swinney as a result of incidents that occurred during the N.C. State game. Sophomore offensive tackle Isaiah Battle was suspended for the Wake Forest game after throwing a punch at a Wolfpack player. He was ejected from the game for his actions.
Carlos Watkins' Status Uncertain: Swinney said Tuesday that he's uncertain of the status of defensive tackle Carlos Watkins for the Tigers' game against Wake Forest. Watkins stayed in the hospital for a second night because of injuries he sustained in automobile accident that took the life of his cousin on Saturday.
While Watkins' injuries are not considered to be serious, he was trapped in the vehicle, unable to move, for more than two hours.
Swinney said Watkins is also dealing with the emotional trauma of losing a family member.
"It was a really bad wreck. Carlos was extremely fortunate, but Carlos' cousin (who is also the cousin of Clemson freshman defensive end Dane Rogers) didn't make it," Swinney said. "Carlos had his seatbelt on, but he was pinned in the car for two hours. It's just a miracle he didn't have broken bones or anything like that.
"He's still sort of getting his feeling back from being locked up in there for a long time. Hopefully, he'll be back today. There are some things we can do for him down in the training room to help him with the all the soreness.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. It's a tough time for them."
Swinney said that when he sees Watkins, "the first thing I'll do is hug his neck and tell him how glad I am to see him."
Injury Update: Freshman cornerback Mackensie Alexander will undergo an outpatient surgical procedure on Thursday that Swinney hopes will facilitate the healing of a troublesome groin pull that has sidelined the player since late summer.
Alexander, the highest-rated member of Clemson's freshman class, has yet to practice full-speed.
"We really haven't even had a chance to evaluate him yet (as a player)," Swinney said. "We're excited about the procedure, because we think it has a chance to correct what's holding him up."
Depending on Alexander's progress over the next couple of weeks, Swinney said "the door's still open" for him to play this season.
Players listed as questionable for the Wake Forest game include offensive tackle Gifford Timothy (concussion), linebacker B.J. Goodson (concussion), and offensive lineman Patrick DeStefano (stinger in his neck).