All-ACC defensive tackle Carlos Watkins spoke with the media on Tuesday as second-ranked Clemson prepares for its trip to Auburn this Saturday in the season-opener for both programs. Recovering from a wrist injury, the senior will play against Auburn in a soft cast.
Q: We heard that you had a cast for a little while. Are you completely healthy and ready to go? And what happened with that?
Watkins: “I’m ready to go. I don’t know, I was playing against the offense and all of the sudden my hand got weird and I didn’t know what happened. I fractured a little bone in my hand, but I’ll be ready to go.”
Q: Will you be wearing a soft cast during the game?
Watkins: “Yeah I’ll be wearing one. I actually tested it out yesterday in practice, but for the rest of the week I’ll be in a full padded cast in preparation for the game.”
Q: Obviously you use your hands a lot as a defensive lineman, is that going to be an issue with you?
Watkins: “No, I mean with the soft cast I can tell the difference. I have a lot more use of my hand with the soft cast. With the big cast I kind of had to adjust to it but you know it’s just a part of the game. (The soft cast will give him use of his fingers.)
Q: What are some of the things you’ve seen on film for Auburn and your preparation for them?
Watkins: “I don’t want to say they trick you but they give a lot of different formations and do a lot of motioning which is kind of tricky for our back seven. We’ve been practicing all of that and coach Venables is going to be giving us the right calls so we should be ready for that.”
Q: Is facing the Clemson offense in practice probably the most similar you can compare Auburn to?
Watkins: “Oh it definitely is. Going against our offense is like no other. I feel like we have the best offense in the country. It’s the wide receivers, running back, O-line so we all definitely got a good look for Auburn.”
Q: Coach Venables says Sean White is “sneaky good.” Is that how he’s describing him to you guys?
Watkins: “Yeah he says. He does make plays, but we can’t take anyone lightly that’s probably what he’s trying to tell us.”
Q: Have you talked to Dexter (Lawrence) at all about the environment that he’s going to be facing for the first time and how do you think he’s going to handle that as a freshman?
Watkins: “Yeah I’ve been trying to prep him mentally you know. He’s physically ready but I tell him it’s different when you get in front of 90,000 plus fans, but I think he’s ready.”
Q: What stands out about Sean White when you’re watching him on film?
Watkins: “He’s shifty and he’s tough. We are definitely gonna have to be ready for him.”
Q: With Christian (Wilkins) playing some end and you dealing with the wrist injury has that been a good opportunity for some of those other defensive tackles to get more reps and get ready to play?
Watkins: “Definitely. Coach Brooks has been getting us ready and trying to get the guys who haven’t had as much playing time like Dexter and especially a guy like Albert (Huggins) who hasn’t had many reps or game time experience ready to play.”
Q: The environment can be very similar to going to Columbia (S.C.). Mentally how do you prepare for this game?
Watkins: “Treat it like any other game. It’s funny how it works for defense. At home it’s a lot harder for us because that’s when we want our crowd to be the loudest and it’s hard for us to communicate and hear calls but away games, their crowd has to be quiet for the offense. So it’s easier for us to communicate.”