By Will Vandervort.
From the look of things Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson seems to be okay. The freshman jogged off the practice field with a big grin on his face after the 21st-ranked Tigers concluded practice on Wednesday beside the Jervey Athletic Center.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said there is a chance Watson could play when the Tigers host archrival South Carolina in Death Valley on Saturday.
“How much or when? We have not decided that yet,” Swinney said. “I think he definitely has a chance to play.”
Watson, who had an LCL sprain near the end of the first quarter at Georgia Tech on Nov. 15, was wearing a purple jersey in practice. The green jersey, which he wore on Monday, was removed prior to Tuesday’s practice. However, Clemson does not allow quarterbacks to be tackled in practice.
Swinney did say Watson did some first-team work on Wednesday, something he did not do in Monday or Tuesday practices. He went on to say the freshman had more confidence in the brace than he did on Monday and Tuesday, and his play showed that.
“We have not made any type of decision. I feel like after three days that he has a chance,” the Clemson coach said. “We will decide in the next day or so. Tomorrow is another big day. Like I said, he has really gotten better every day and in dealing with his situation, part of it is him getting more and more comfortable with his brace that he is wearing because he has never worn a brace. So that has been a little bit of a different thing, too.
“We will see him tomorrow. We will sit down and watch the tape and really evaluate what we think gives us the best chance to win the ball game, but I do think we are in better shape this week than we were last week.”
Watson has taken mostly second team reps this week because the coaching staff really wants to evaluate him and make sure they have the continuity they need with everyone else on the offense. They also want to make sure backup Cole Stoudt is prepped and mentally ready on being the starter so there is not a repeat of the Georgia Tech game.
“They both have had a good week from a preparation standpoint, just mentally being really dialed in,” Swinney said. “Cole has had a great week (of practice). He has probably had his best week in quite a while so I think we are well prepared to go a play a good game.
“Hopefully, Deshaun by Saturday is ready to go. If not I know Cole Stoudt is.”
Swinney indicated the decision to play Watson might not occur until Saturday morning, pregame or right up until the noon kickoff.
Byers could be out. Fullback Roderick Byers, who moved over to the offensive side of the football prior to the Boston College game, might miss Saturday’s game against the Gamecocks. The junior’s grandmother passed away and Swinney said there is a possibility he will not be back in time to play this Saturday.
Jenkins likely out, too. Defensive back Martin Jenkins was hoping to get back from a mid-foot sprain this Saturday, but Swinney said he does not think the senior will be able to play in his final game at Death Valley.
Jenkins has missed six of the last seven games. He did play against Syracuse, but he reinjured his foot and has missed the last three games.