CLEMSON -- Freshmen Sammy Watkins and Mike Bellamy were the best players on the field in Clemson's 43-19 season-opening win against Troy, telling of their talents and where Clemson is as a football team.
It was evident at Memorial Stadium on Saturday that the Tigers (1-0) are far from a finished product, breaking in a new quarterback, new offensive coordinator and playing 12 true freshmen.
After a disjointed first half, the Tigers were met with a cascade of boos as they trotted to the locker room trailing Troy, 16-13.
What was also clear is Clemson is faster, a lot faster, than a year ago thanks to the freshman talent. The Tigers' true freshmen at the skill positions combined for 278 total yards against Troy.
"I think (former offensive line coach) Brad Scott deserves the game ball for recruiting Mike Bellamy, Martavis Bryant and Sammy Watkins," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "These freshmen are fast. We want to use them to wear people down. … They are a fun bunch to watch."
They were fun to watch for 74,135 in attendance Saturday.
Watkins became the quickest player in program history to record his first career touchdown, just 26 seconds into his career.
On the game's second play from scrimmage, Watkins took a screen pass from Boyd and weaved through the Troy defense for a
33-yard touchdown. Former running back Terry Allen had been the previous fastest to a touchdown, scoring 8:53 into his career.
It was a dream come true, literally, for Watkins, who said he dreamt earlier this week he would score on the second play.
"I was shaking running down the hill," Watkins said. "I put the butterflies behind me and just played after that. I thought (scoring a touchdown) was a dream, but it came true."
It took Bellamy longer to get his first touch from scrimmage, but he made it count.
With 11 minutes remaining in the game, Bellamy took a handoff and sprinted around the left side of the line to go untouched for a 75-yard touchdown. It was the longest first carry for a player in program history. Bellamy also returned the opening kick 40 yards, showing the speed that won him a high school state championship in Florida in the 100 meters.
Fellow freshman Martavis Bryant added a 54-yard reception.
The explosive plays were not a surprise to offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
"I saw it coming," Morris said. "I knew how electric those guys would be."
The young players must grow quickly as Auburn, Florida State and a trip to Virginia Tech are all on the schedule between now and Oct. 1.
Notice about comments:
The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.