The news on Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams is good. What appeared to be a frightening neck injury won’t be career-ending. For someone with such a bright future, that’s all that matters.
For Clemson, however, losing Williams for any length of time could be problematic. Few receivers in the country are as dynamic a deep threat as he is, and with Deshaun Watson back at quarterback, the downfield passing game is an integral part of the Tigers’ attack.
So how big was Williams on deep throws? According to ESPN Stats & Info, on throws of 15 yards or more, Watson completed 12-of-15 with four touchdowns and no interceptions when targeting Williams in 2014. When targeting his other receivers, he was just 15-of-32 with five TDs and two picks.
Williams’ 45 targets on throws of 15-plus yards was also the second-most by a Power 5 receiver last season.
Coach Dabo Swinney didn’t rule out the possibility of Williams returning to the field in 2015, but it certainly sounds like it won’t happen soon. And given that Clemson had a crucial conference game against Louisville just 10 days from now, there’s room for concern.
In Week 1, the Cardinals’ D was devastating on anything close to a deep throw. Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson -- a trendy Heisman pick before the season -- threw 12 passes of 10 yards or more. He completed three to his team and three to Louisville defenders.
The case can surely be made that Watson is better than Johnson, but there will be some big questions going into that matchup now that it looks like he’ll be without his top deep target.
Young guns at QB
Whether Lamar Jackson officially got a start for Louisville is something of a semantics debate. He was on the field for the first play, threw the first pass and played the bulk of the reps, however, so we’re giving it to him.
That means that after Saturday’s games, the ACC will have started seven true freshmen at quarterback since the beginning of last season. The rest of the Power 5 conferences have started just 11 total.
Brissett is on point
NC State rolled past Troy in its opener, with QB Jacoby Brissett completing 21 of 23 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
Brissett’s completion percentage of 91.3 is the fifth-highest by an ACC quarterback with at least 23 attempts in the past decade.
Bryn Renner 95.7 percent vs. James Madison in 2011
Sean Renfree 93.3 percent vs. Navy in 2010
Jameis Winston 92.6 percent vs. Pitt in 2013
Logan Thomas 92.0 percent vs. Miami in 2011
Brissett’s 91.3 percent vs. Troy on Saturday
That game also marked the second time Brissett has faced a Vic Koenning-coached defense in his last three games. Koenning was fired at UNC at the end of last season. In those two games, Brissett has completed 30 of 34 passes and NC State has scored a combined 84 points.
Pass rush problems for FSU
Texas State’s game plan called for plenty of short, quick passes, which offers at least some explanation for another Florida State game in which the pass rush didn’t get to the quarterback. Still, the Bobcats threw 42 times and the Seminoles recorded just one sack.
FSU’s lone sack Saturday came from defensive back Trey Marshall, which also isn’t much of a surprise. Since former defensive coordinator Mark Stoops left after the 2012 season, 30 percent of the Seminoles’ sacks have come from DBs. Under Charles Kelly the past two years, six of FSU’s 18 sacks are courtesy of the secondary. With Lorenzo Featherston out of action Saturday, the only two defensive linemen who’d previously recorded a sack at FSU were DeMarcus Walker (2) and Chris Casher (3).
BC’s ground game sluggish
Tyler Rouse's 45-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter turned what might’ve been a complete disaster into something at least resembling competence for Boston College’s ground game Saturday. But the rest of the game? Yikes.
BC was already concerned about its offensive line, and Saturday’s win over Maine did little to alleviate those fears. Set aside Rouse’s long run, and the Eagles mustered just 3.3 yards per carry. Last year, there were only six games in which a Power 5 team averaged worse against an FCS opponent -- and they were all by some of the country’s worst rushing offenses (Wake Forest, Tennessee, Washington State among them).
Wolford runs wild
Wake Forest’s offense racked up a whopping 591 yards against Elon on Thursday, which ties for the third-best mark in school history and the most in any game since 1975. So while the “yeah, but it’s Elon” crowd has a valid point, it’s still worth celebrating for the Deacons.
The highlight of the game was QB John Wolford's 70-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. That play alone accounted for more rush yards than Wake tallied in eight of its 12 games last season.