For a while Saturday night Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins looked like a true freshman. He bobbled the opening kickoff then decided to try to run it out of the end zone instead of taking a knee. He was tackled on the four yard line. Shortly after that miscue he muffed a punt to set up Maryland’s first score of the game. For most players this would be the start of a miserable game or a spot on the bench. For Watkins it turned into a record setting night.
Watkins ended up with 207 return yards, including an 89 yarder for a touchdown, he caught eight passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another 33 yards. That’s 345 all-purpose yards, a school record. It breaks C.J. Spiller’s mark of 312 in the 2009 game against Florida State.
Watkins wasn’t the only offensive star. Running back Andre Ellington carried the ball 24 times for 213 yards and two scores. He averaged over eight yards a carry and his longest rush was 55 yards.
Tajh Boyd was shaky early before he settled in over the final two quarters. Boyd was 2-6 for 18 yards in the first quarter. He threw an interception that was returned 46 yards for a Maryland score with 2:23 left. Maybe it took some time for him to adjust to wearing hip pads? In any case, Boyd ended up with better than average passing night completing 26 of his 38 passes for 270 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively Clemson struggled to contain Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown. Brown ran the ball 22 times for 187 yards and passed for another 177 yards. He ran for one score and threw for another three. Tigers defensive coordinator Kevin Steele says the lack of containment and the 45 points allowed fall on his shoulders.