Sizing up the ACC: Tigers navigate turnover in receiver corps

Clemson spring football game - Marcus Edmond & Kyrin Priester

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson spring football game - Marcus Edmond & Kyrin Priester

It’s easy to talk about Clemson’s receivers first with who’s not around any more.

By the numbers, the best to ever don an orange and white uniform will be in Buffalo this fall ( Sammy Watkins).

Also gone is big, speedy target Martavis Bryant – combining with Watkins for Cole Stoudt and co. missing over half of ‘13 pass offense.

The expectations for the Tigers’ ’14 passing game for Stoudt are part success in a small sample size – and the reputation of the Chad Morris offense.

His receiver group is a little more proven – over 2,000 snaps between four targets with starting experience.

Former Dorman teammates Adam Humphries and Charone Peake are the last of a mega-star-studded-2011 recruiting class, while they’ll compete in fall camp with a group quite possibly every bit as good.

What’s the rest of the ACC looking like?

2013 Returning Leaders v. FBS Opponents (Per CFB Stats)

1. Jamison Crowder (Duke) – 102 rec./99.8 YPG/12.7 YPR/8 TDs

2. Tyler Boyd (Pittsburgh) – 79 rec./94 YPG/14.3 YPR/7 TDs

3. Rashad Greene (Florida State) – 72 rec./83.4 YPG/15.1 YPR/8 TDs

4. DeVante Parker (Louisville) – 50 rec./68.3 YPG/15 YPR/10 TDs

5. Quinshad Davis (UNC) – 44 rec./50.5 YPG/13.8 YPR/9 TDs

2013 Returning Leaders – Receptions per game

1. Jamison Crowder (Duke) – 7.8

2. Tyler Boyd (Pittsburgh) – 6.5

3. Rashad Greene (Florida State) – 5.4

4. DeVante Parker (Louisville) – 4.6

5. Ashton Broyld (Syracuse) – 4

2013 Returning Leaders – Yards per catch

1. Stacy Coley (Miami) – 17.9

2. DeVante Parker (Louisville) – 16.1

3. Joshua Stanford (Virginia Tech) – 16

4. Jarrod West (Syracuse) – 15.3

5. Quinshad Davis (UNC) – 15

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.)

Tier 1

1) Florida State

Outlook: If it wasn’t enough that Florida State has Jameis Winston returning, they also have his top target – Rashad Greene – who is in the top-five among NCAA active leaders (2,465 yards/22 TDs). Around him could be a bit of a youth movement – sophomore Kermit Whitfield one, a speedster who averaged 32.8 yards per touch returning kicks and some limited time at receiver (five catches for 89 yards).

2) Clemson

Outlook: The production will be there, but it may be in a different form than the first three seasons under Morris – the yards and scores spread out. Stoudt has his array of choices: big targets in Mike Williams and Peake, and quite a few who can make you miss in open space. The opportunity to step up and stand out runs the gamut among the Tigers - it’s just a question of who makes up the snaps in the fast-paced scheme.

3) Duke

Outlook: Senior Jamison Crowder is the ACC’s top returning receiver (7.7 receptions for 98.1 yards per game) in a passing game that’s finished in the top-50 nationally five seasons in a row. Second-year starter Anthony Boone has three of his top-four targets back in 2014.

4) Louisville

Outlook: DeVante Parker has a career 17 yards per reception average, totaling 22 touchdowns over the last two seasons paired with Teddy Bridgewater. Louisville’s next QB has the benefit of him and four more with at least 25 catches or 250 yards last season.

Tier 2

5) North Carolina

Outlook: The Tar Heels bring back the corps of a passing offense that’s finished in the top-30 nationally back-to-back seasons. Gaffney product Quinshad Davis’ catch totals dipped a bit last season, but the 6-4 target made up for it by doubling his touchdown catches (10).

6) Pittsburgh

Outlook: Another of the multiple ACC teams replacing QBs, Pitt rising sophomore Tyler Boyd is back to help after leading the Panthers with 85 receptions for 1,174 yards last year. They lose Devin Street and his ability to stretch the field (16.8 YPR), but do return the rest of the receiver corps.

Tier 3

7) Miami

Outlook: From one electric freshman campaign to another, Stacy Coley is the ACC’s active leader in yards per catch (17.9). Miami has its share of talent around him, but with Duke Johnson back and inexperience at QB, the ‘Canes should stick to the ground more than in recent years.

8) Virginia Tech

Outlook: For better or worse, the Hokies’ 2013 leader in catches (51) and yards (660), rising senior Willie Byrn, is second-string on the depth chart. After a strong spring, redshirt sophomore Joshua Stanford looks to build on his 40 catches and 640 receiving yards last season, breaking a pair of freshman school records.

9) N.C. State

Outlook: State trades up in QB (Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett) and loses its top two receivers, leaving another question mark in year two for Dave Doeren in Raleigh. Bryan Underwood has had his moments in the last three seasons, while some of the young guns have shown flashes – a mid-year enrollee accounted for 10 catches and 132 yards in the spring game (Bo Hines).

10) Syracuse

Outlook: After stints at a few different positions, Ashton Broyld should stick at receiver, where he totaled 126 yards and eight catches with two scores in the Orange spring game. The ‘Cuse offense was as committed to run as any ACC team last season – not taking many chances downfield with a young quarterback. In year two for Terrel Hunt, a natural progression would be a few more deep throws, but I’m not expecting a big jump.

Tier 4

11) Virginia

Outlook: Virginia had a league-low nine touchdown throws – and only five went to wide receivers. Some of the talents who were assumed starters last year were buried on the post-spring depth chart – add in a QB competition, and it’s easy to be a little cautious on a resurgence of the Hoos passing game.

12) Boston College

Outlook: No one man accounted for more receiving yards in the ACC than now-graduated Alex Amidon (51 percent). Add in that the next-best receiver, Spiffy Evans, left the team – and there’s a few question marks. BC coach Steve Addazio signed a receiver-heavy ’14 class, where they should get a shot at making an instant-impact.

13) Wake Forest

Outlook: The good from the bad of Michael Campanaro’s late-season injury was Wake Forest got a better look at what’s ahead in 2014. The Deacs have finished in the bottom three of the ACC in the passing game three of the last four seasons – and with an unsettled QB situation, that likely won’t change in 2014.

14) Georgia Tech

Outlook: A Georgia Tech receiver hasn’t led Georgia Tech in receptions the last two seasons. In a scheme that has just a pair of receivers on the field at most usually, it’s not conducive to big yards. The two receivers in the top-43 NFL draft picks in 2010 and 2011 (Demaryius Thomas and Stephen Hill) is looking like more an aberration each year removed.

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Comments » 3

TigerNE writes:

Given GT's recruiting in 2013 and 2014 they will surely stay at the very bottom in receiver talent.

I think Peake could rival Rashad Greene this season in stats if Morris uses himi as the go to guy. Of course, with Peake there are a lot of "ifs" about staying healthy, etc.

On the flip side, the limit for Peake and Williams will be as you stated - how Morris will modify his strategy with a much deeper RB core. It's possible we could see something like Peake and Leggett splitting 1,500 to 2,000 yards between them with many behind them (Humphries, Williams, Seckninger, etc.) taking a smaller portion of about 1,500 to 2,000 or so passing yards.

I still expect a more balanced pass/run yardage number by the end of the season.

clemvol writes:

Success for all receivers will be hinged on the Tight End position. This position has to be able to block and catch with the same ability. Having a minimum of 2 players that can do this will put the added pressure on defenses that is critical.

fasttiger44#293363 writes:

in response to TigerNE:

Given GT's recruiting in 2013 and 2014 they will surely stay at the very bottom in receiver talent.

I think Peake could rival Rashad Greene this season in stats if Morris uses himi as the go to guy. Of course, with Peake there are a lot of "ifs" about staying healthy, etc.

On the flip side, the limit for Peake and Williams will be as you stated - how Morris will modify his strategy with a much deeper RB core. It's possible we could see something like Peake and Leggett splitting 1,500 to 2,000 yards between them with many behind them (Humphries, Williams, Seckninger, etc.) taking a smaller portion of about 1,500 to 2,000 or so passing yards.

I still expect a more balanced pass/run yardage number by the end of the season.

I think you are exactly right in what you say. For instance: If two QB's pass for 3,800 yards between them, we may have 5 receivers catching the ball to account for those yards. I have a feeling, with so many receivers, there may not be one guy with big numbers like with Sammy. The end result may be the same or possibly better...who knows. By the last Saturday in November we will know who's got it and who doesn't have it. And trust me, we got it and will show it!!!

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