Dabo Swinney says quarterback Deshaun Watson does not owe anybody an apology for third-ranked Clemson’s struggles on the offensive side of the ball through the first two games.
“That’s just him being a leader and trying to maybe deflect,” Swinney said on Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “He is the least of my worries.”
As the Tigers (2-0) get set to host S.C. State this coming Saturday in Death Valley, Watson isn’t having the kind of season he or the fans were hoping for. Watson, who came into the season with a 67.8 completion percentage, has completed just 52.9 percent of his passes in the first two weeks and has thrown three interceptions to four touchdown passes.
Watson apologized to the media and the fans on Monday for his bad play and the negative attitude he has had when it comes to his obligations with the media.
“I’m not Superman, and I am not a superhero,” the junior said. “I had a talk with Coach Swinney (Monday) morning. I’m human. I’m going to make mistakes.”
But Watson is not making as many as it seems. Swinney said wide receiver Mike Williams was charged with one of his two interceptions in last Saturday’s win over Troy, while co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said the wide receivers dropped eight passes that would have netted 178 yards and added two touchdowns to his total.
Watson finished the afternoon 27-of-53 for 292 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions against Troy. However, if his receivers would have executed the eight drops, his day could have been dramatically better. He should have finished 35-of-53 for 470 yards and five touchdowns with one interception.
If Watson would have connected on just one of the two deep balls he overthrew Williams on, he would have thrown for 500 yards and six touchdown passes. The offense would have scored more than 50 points and all the questions about the offense would not exist.
But those things did not happen and those questions are being asked.
“We have good depth at wide receiver, but we have to play better at that position,” Swinney said. “That is definitely the most underperforming, underachieving position on our team right now. It is not just the obvious things.
“We see a guy drop the ball, but it’s a lot more than that. The good news is, we will get better, because this is a very competitive group, guys that have done it. It is just a matter of being focused.”
And when they get focused and start executing, days like this past Saturday will be in the review mirror and their quarterback will not have to apologize anymore.
“We just haven’t had the intensity that we need. Intensity brings about concentration and attention to details and we have been poor in spots,” Swinney said. “We have been really good at times, but you know we are a fifty-fifty group right now. You can’t be fifty-fifty at (the wide receiver) position.
“The entire joy of being an offensive lineman is seeing the chains move. They get to run ten more yards or twenty yards because we made a play. It is frustrating. That’s what I challenge our receivers on. I am going to put you in at running back and let you pick up that Ben Boulware blitzing through there like Wayne Gallman and them have to do. I will put you at left guard. Everybody has a job to do and right now we can’t get in rhythm because we are so inconsistent at our execution and it just kind of messes up other things.”
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