As much as the Clemson Tigers may be getting used to playing games without star wide receiver Sammy Watkins, that does not make it any easier. That being said, the Tigers will have to take the field on Saturday in an ACC road contest against the Boston College Eagles on Saturday once again without Watkins, who will miss the game with an abdominal virus.
It will be the third time in five games this season that Clemson will miss the explosiveness of Watkins. He missed the first two games of the season after being suspended from a drug-related incident in May. The sophomore was pulled over during a traffic stop and found with a small amount of marijuana and two unprescribed pills. He received two misdemeanors, and took part in a intervention program in addition to the suspension.
This time it is a health issue for Watkins, as he appears to be one of a handful of Tigers’ football players battling a virus. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said that Watkins will not even make the trip to Chestnut Hill for the Tigers’ second consecutive conference game. They lost to the Florida State Seminoles on the road last Saturday night after leading by two touchdowns to begin the second half.
“Sammy has been practicing, but on Tuesday and Wednesday took himself out late in the practice because he was not feeling well, coach Dabo Swinney said in an official statement. “Today he was worse and after going to the doctor it was determined that he needed to stay here this weekend.”
Watkins was still working his way back into the offense for Clemson, although he was more or less held in check during his two games this season. He did rush for his first touchdown against Furman in his 2012 debut and throw a touchdown pass against Florida State, but he was not seeing as much action at wide receiver quite yet. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Watkins was huge in last season’s win over the Eagles, hauling in seven catches for 152 yards in a 36-14 win.
But this season, Clemson has actually put up more offensive yards in the team’s two wins without him than they did in the two games in which Watkins did play. Still, losing him will not help a team who will also be without wide receiver Martavis Bryant, meaning DeAndre Hopkins will see much more double coverage. Expect the Tigers to hand the ball off to running back Andre Ellington a bit more than usual.
Either way, while they will still be favored to pick up the road victory, the Tigers will struggle a bit on offense at receiver and in special teams play, as Watkins and Bryant also returned kicks for the team.
Watkins is expected back for Clemson’s next game on October 6 at home against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, while the Tigers do not expect to see Bryant again until a huge game on October 20 against the Virginia Tech Hokies, at the earliest.
The No. 17 Tigers take on the Eagles at 3:30 PM on Saturday, in a game expected to feature cool temperatures and on an off rain showers.