Watkins has fun again, helps Tigers roll over Wake

by - Staff Writer -

WINSTON-SALEM, NC- Practice makes perfect.

For the first time this season, wide receiver Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
So. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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looked like the All-American that he was in 2011, catching eight passes for 202 yards and breaking Clemson’s single game receiving record in the Tigers’ 42-13 victory over Wake Forest Thursday night at Groves Stadium.

Watkins attributed his success to his re-energized practiced habits, and said that pushing himself hard in practice showed on the playing field.

“I’m just pushing my self in practice again to work harder,” Watkins said after the game. “I’m not being lazy in practice. I’m pushing myself harder in the game. It’s natural reaction to just sit back and think that it comes so easy, but I just have to come back and have a hard practice next week.

“I just think if you practice good, then you play good. That was the difference this week. I practiced real good. I executed plays. I practiced hard all week and it showed in the game. I executed the plays in practice and hit them tonight in the game. I was able to just take over the game like I did in practice.”

Even though fans and media pundits around the country all wondered if there was anything wrong with Watkins, he said that there were never any issues- he simply needed to have fun again.

And fun he had, catching three passes that were 50 yards or longer.

“I don’t think anything was ever wrong,” Watkins said. “I just wasn’t playing my best ballgames and I wasn’t executing the plays. I was having fun just moving around and playing with the offense. I wasn’t pressing myself and not worrying about touchdowns or when I’m going to get the ball. I just played within the system, got open and got great balls from Tajh. I just got in the groove. I think next week it should carry on, too.”

Missing the first two games of the season due to suspension and then another due to illness really took a toll on Watkins, and he said that his body wasn’t in “football shape.”

“That was the biggest downfall for me,” he said. “I wasn’t in shape and had to get back into football shape. I wasn’t in shape the Florida State week and the other weeks. Now, I’m preparing like I did last year and practicing hard. I’m making myself tired in practice.”

Watkins’ first receiving touchdown of the season was a 61-yard strike from quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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, and Watkins said scoring that touchdown really got him back to feeling like himself.

“It [the first receiving touchdown] just got me in the groove,” Watkins said. “We practiced it every day. We knew they were going to be in a cover four and the safety and the safety was going to lockdown on Jaron [Brown] and I was going to be wide open. It was a great ball by Tajh and a great catch by me. I don’t know what happened after that. I just ran.”

Watkins said that Clemson’s offense has missed the downfield part of its game this season and he felt like offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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was more aggressive in his play calling.

“That’s [downfield passing game] what we’ve been missing in this offense,” Watkins said. “We’ve been running the ball and throwing the little short passes. We actually opened up the offense and went deep this week. Coach [Morris] called the plays aggressive this week and I played aggressive. I just came out and executed all of the plays.”

With a big game behind him and the weekend off, Watkins said he just wants to relax and prepare for the Duke Blue Devils.

“I just hit the cold tub and get away from football,” Watkins said. “I just go home and hang around with family and friends and get prepared for the next game.”

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