It was obvious when Deshaun Watson walked into the WestZone at Memorial Stadium this past Monday that something was on his mind.
Expectations are high for the junior quarterback and his Clemson teammates this year. The Tigers are the favorites to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, again. They are expected to be in the College Football Playoff hunt and Watson is supposed to be one of the front runners to win the Heisman Trophy.
But through the first two games, No. 3 Clemson has not lived up to expectations. The Tigers struggled in their win at Auburn to finish drives, and then last week, they sputtered for three quarters before finally getting it together with two touchdowns and a field goal on their last three drives against Troy.
At times, it looked like the Tigers were not having fun.
“We have to understand we only get twelve Saturdays and only seven of them are at home,” Watson said. “We just have to take advantage of that. You only get to (have) this opportunity once. We need to really enjoy it because the college experience goes so fast, especially with a whole bunch of guys having an opportunity to move on in a couple of months.”
Watson made it clear that when Clemson runs down the Hill just before noon on Saturday to play S.C. State, they are going to forget about all the expectations and distractions on the outside and will simply play the game they all love to play.
“There are a lot of distractions going around, but we just gave to get back to the main thing and focus on the moment and live in the moment,” he said. “We just have to have fun with it and enjoy it.”
With the fun, says running back Wayne Gallman, the Tigers (2-0) will find their rhythm. The All-ACC running back says the two kind of go hand-and-hand.
“It will come. We just can’t bargain ourselves into playing well and getting in a rhythm,” he said. “Everybody just has to come out and play.”
Gallman said there were instances when they were not having fun against Troy because everything was not going their way.
“But at the same time, that’s life. That’s adversity,” he said. “Everybody has to experience one game or another when they don’t play well.”
Watson promised he is going to do all he can to make sure the Tigers’ issues on offense end at Troy.
“I talked to Deshaun, and I think it is him being a leader,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “First of all, he doesn’t owe anybody an apology. But that is just him being a leader and trying to maybe deflect…
“Yes we have a lot of crap that we have to fix, we have a lot of guys that need to play better and play their potential. But that will come,” Swinney continued. “And when it does man it’s amazing how the fun happens. When those chains are moving there is a lot more fun going on.”