Quarterback to wide receiver. It is one of the simplest combinations in football and one of the most critical. Every team has that one receiver the quarterback trusts. The guy you know is getting the ball on third down or running the fade route into the end zone for a score. At Clemson that duo was supposed to be Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams this year. The early Heisman contender throwing the ball to a 6'4" target, and likely first round draft pick, was going to be the key that kept this offense running.
During Watson's first season, Williams quickly became his favorite target. In the 4 games Watson played a majority of the snaps, he threw for 1200 yards and 10 touchdowns, thank you NC State for being horrible. Of those 1200 yards, Mike Williams caught passes for 408 of them. He also scored 4 of the 10 touchdowns Watson threw for. With so much talent at the wide receiver position for Clemson, one player having 33% of the passing yards and 40% of the touchdowns is particularly impressive. Even though it was only 4 games, Williams and Watson quickly developed a partnership that seemed destined to bring success.
Sadly a freak neck fracture has killed those dreams for now. Instead of having that obvious target Deshaun Watson has been forced to rely on several other options. These options are not as talented as Mike Williams. Yes, Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud III may be better than Williams given time, but Williams was going to be that man for 2015. He was going to be our DeAndre Hopkins or Sammy Watkins. With hopes of an ACC title it was critical WIlliams stay healthy. Now we just see a lot of dropped balls and missed opportunity.
This year Watson has thrown for 640 yards over 3 games. Yes, he was yanked early from the first two, but it is still a similar sample size. So far Artavis Scott has emerged as the primary target with 188 yards, but many of his yards have come on motion passes. Those 3 inch passes from Watson to Scott as the latter breezes across the field before crossing the line of scrimmage and inevitably scoring or making our jaw hit the floor in other ways. Even with those yards he isn't the target Williams is. Scott hasn't quite developed that ability to be the go to guy on a third down.
Until another candidate develops, Clemson fans will be awaiting the return of Mike Williams. Already Dabo has said that he is doing well in his recovery, but the lack of a timeline is going to concern fans. There is a real possibility Williams doesn't play this season, but if he does we can expect to see the dynamic partnership of Watson to Williams once again.