CLEMSON -- If Saturday were a preview of things to come at wide receiver this season, Clemson will be favoring youth at the position.
Clemson entered the season opener still sorting through a logjam of wideouts. The Tigers played eight receivers in their 35-10 win over North Texas.
While veterans Xavier Dye and Marquan Jones started the game, it was younger and inexperienced players like true freshman DeAndre Hopkins, redshirt freshman Bryce McNeal and Brandon Clear who soaked up most of the playing time.
Clear and McNeal were the receivers most targeted in the passing game Saturday. Hopkins, McNeal and sophomore Jaron Brown all tied with a team-best two receptions.
Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier said he would like to whittle down the group early in the season.
"I think the ball just happened to go there," Napier said. "But we did think those guys could be productive and they were. We'll continue to try and see who we are going to move around to be that guy."
Clear made the most of his opportunity, breaking behind the North Texas secondary to haul in a long Kyle Parker throw for a 70-yard touchdown. It was the first touchdown and fourth career catch for the 6-5, 210-pound junior.
Hopkins' first action was one of the more anticipated debuts among the Tigers' true freshmen. Hopkins was the recipient of Parker's first completion of the season, catching a short pass in the flat and making one defender miss for a 16-yard pickup in the second quarter.
"He's got a sixth sense," said Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney of Hopkins' run after the catch ability.
McNeal's first catch, a 30-yarder, set up Clemson's first touchdown of the second half.
The loss of C.J. Spiller was supposed to be less damaging in the run game where Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper were viewed as quality replacements.
But what of the return game? Marcus Gilchrist showed Saturday there might be life after Spiller in returning punts and kicks.
Not only is Gilchrist an asset in coverage and run support on defense, but on Saturday he returned two punts for 41 yards and two kicks for 58 yards.
Clemson won by 25 points Saturday despite losing the time of possession battle to North Texas by a considerable margin. Clemson held the ball for just 18:08 while the Mean Green owned the ball for 41:52, rattling off 83 plays from scrimmage.
Of course, when Clemson wasn't sluggish on offense it was scoring quickly. The combined elapsed time of four Clemson first-half scoring drives was 1:58.
With 6:29 to play in the fourth quarter and Clemson enjoying a 35-10 lead, freshman quarterback Tajh Boyd took his first snap. Boyd completed one of four throws for 7 yards.
--Former walk-on tight end Phillip Price continues his strides at tackles, making a key block on Ellington's second touchdown of the day. Price appears to have secured a place in Clemson's offensive line rotation.
--In his first game as a starting corner, Fort Dorchester product Byron Maxwell intercepted North Texas quarterback Nathan Tune in the end zone in the second half.
--Freshman linebacker Justin Parker and cornerback Martin Jenkins joined Hopkins as other Clemson true freshmen to play.
--Miguel Chavis started over Brandon Thompson at defensive tackle.
Dawson Zimmerman booted a 79-punt in the first half the second longest in Clemson history. ... Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett and men's basketball coach Brad Brownell joined Swinney to run down the hill prior to kickoff. And for the record, the ultracompetitive Leggett beat Brownell down the hill.