By Will Vandervort.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says he may not know if Deshaun Watson will be available to play against South Carolina until just before kickoff on Saturday when the 22nd-ranked Tigers host the Gamecocks in Death Valley.
“It really is a day‑to‑day thing, and I’m not trying to have some conspiracy or anything like that,” Swinney said. “We just don’t know. And until we can go through and watch him practice the way he’s got to practice to be able to play – it may be a decision that’s game time.
“I don’t know. But he is getting better each day.”
On Monday, Watson practiced in a green jersey, but it was a short practice in which the Tigers were out there for about an hour. Swinney says the team will learn more about what the freshman quarterback can do and can’t do when he goes through a regular tempo practice today and Wednesday.
“He had a new brace on yesterday that he seemed pretty comfortable with,” Swinney said. “So we’ll see how he does today with some good, competitive work, good-on-good and stuff like that where the speed of the game is going to be a little better today.”
Swinney says as long as Watson can do the things that they need him to do to win the game then he will start on Saturday.
“I mean, he’s proven that but he’s got to be able to do those things. We can’t change our offense,” the Clemson coach said. “He’s got to be able to play and execute. He’s got to be able to escape. He has to be able to run our system. Those are things that he has to demonstrate throughout the week of practice.”
For Watson to play, Swinney says he doesn’t necessarily have to be 100 percent.
“He’s just got to be able to do the things that we need him to do to run our offense,” Swinney said. “To be honest with you, very few players out there are hundred percent when you’re in your 12th game of the season, on either team.
“But he’s got to be able to execute on a high level for us, that’s for sure.”
And if not, then Cole Stoudt will be Clemson’s starter.
“Oh, yeah, he’s taken all the reps with the ones,” Swinney said. “Because, again, we’re still trying to test the water with Deshaun. It’s a daily deal we’re going through with him. So we’re going to prepare Cole to be the starter, and then we’ll make the decision on Deshaun as we go through the week and see where he is at the end of the week.”