CLEMSON -- The sum of all fears were not realized Saturday for Clemson: the Tigers overcame a double-digit deficit in a 31-28 win against Wake Forest, and receiver Sammy Watkins is going to be OK.
Watkins' health appeared to be in serious question when he left the game in the third quarter (shoulder) and was taken to the locker room. He did not return. But Watkins avoided serious injury, suffering an AC sprain, according to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. Swinney said the injury is not serious.
"Nothing separated," Swinney said. "Hopefully, he'll play next week (at N.C. State)."
Left tackle Phillip Price also left the game, with a right knee injury (MCL sprain), and will require an MRI. Swinney said Price could miss some time. Left guard Brandon Thomas replaced Price, and David Smith came in at left guard.
Wake's missed chances
After throwing just three interceptions over the first eight games of the season, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has thrown four interceptions in the last two weeks. It could have been a five-interception day for Boyd had Wake hung on to several other errant passes.
Said Wake coach Jim Grobe: "I think our biggest disappointment defensively was the amount of balls we had in our hands that we didn't come up with. That's going to be something our guys, when they come in Monday and look at the film, are going to really kick themselves over."
Boyd did reach 27 touchdown passes for the season, tying the single-season mark at Clemson (Cullen Harper, 2007). Offensive coordinator Chad Morris said Boyd could break every passing record at Clemson.
Dabo said it
Swinney on Clemson's failure to convert a fourth-and-inches in the second half: "We are playing for a championship, and we can't get four inches? You got to be kidding me."
Watkins played long enough Saturday to become the third Clemson player to record a 1,000-yard receiving season. Watkins caught five passes for 62 yards before leaving the game. Aaron Kelly was the last Clemson player to have a 1,000-yard receiving season (1,081 yards, 2007). Rod Gardner had 1,000-yard seasons in 1999 (1,084) and 2000 (1,050).
Wake Forest called two timeouts to try to ice Chandler Catanzaro on his second game-winning field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter. As Catanzaro waited for his chance, Swinney put his arm around Catanzaro and said: "I'm still going to love you, whether you make it or miss it."
Rookies on parade
Two other freshmen wedged their way into significant playing time Saturday. Freshman receiver Adam Humphries caught three passes for 24 yards and displayed a good acceleration after the catch, a burst which Morris said is among the best on the team. Freshman defensive tackle DeShawn Williams was also part of the defensive line rotation.
For a second straight game, cornerback Xavier Brewer started at safety, replacing Jonathan Meeks. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is trying to find a way to limit big plays allowed in the passing game.