By Will Vandervort.
Let the official Deshaun Watson watch begin.
There is no question the health surrounding Clemson’s talented quarterback will be the most asked and talked about question of the week as the 22nd-ranked Tigers get ready to host archrival South Carolina next Saturday in Death Valley.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said during his Sunday teleconference with the media that Watson is still day-to-day and he will practice in a green jersey on Monday. A player wearing a green jersey means they will be limited to what they can do in practice as far as live drills go.
But since Clemson does not allow its quarterbacks to be hit in anyway, then what will Swinney and the rest of the coaches want to see out of Watson on Monday and the rest of the week in order to feel comfortable about putting him out on the field come Saturday?
“He has to be able to do what we need him to do from a passing-game standpoint and in the run game,” Swinney said. “He cannot be a sitting duck back there. He has to be able to move, scramble, run and all that stuff.”
The coaching staff, trainers and doctors will evaluate the freshman and see where he is as they go through the week. The most telling days for this progress will come on Tuesday and Wednesday when the Tigers practice in full pads and work exclusively on the game plan.
“I’m anxious to see him tomorrow just like everyone else is because he has had two or three days where he has kind of been off (the knee) so we will see at practice.”
With Watson’s playing status still officially in doubt, the Tigers will have to make sure backup Cole Stoudt is ready to go. Swinney was pleased with what he saw out of the senior in Saturday’s win over Georgia State and he was glad to see him have a smile on his face after everything that happened last week.
“We will definitely have to have Cole ready to go and prepare him to be the starter,” Swinney said. “We just have to see where Deshaun is as we go through the week. I mean, I really don’t know. But I know he has to be able to perform the things we need him to do before we can play him.”
Stoudt completed 19 of 29 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown against Georgia State. He also tweaked a left shoulder injury he has been suffering with since the NC State game, but he never left the game or asked to be taken out.
“He is okay. He is a tough kid and he is a guy that has been nursing a hurt shoulder all year long,” Swinney said. “He really does fine with it. Every now and then he might get in a tough spot or fall on it the wrong way, but it is nothing he can’t play through or has not played through.”
The Tigers (8-3) hope Watson can play through a sore knee after injuring his LCL against Georgia Tech. He has only been able to play in two quarters since breaking his finger in the Louisville game on Oct. 11.
“We will have to see where Deshaun is during and after practice tomorrow,” Swinney said.