Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said on Monday he has no doubt about quarterback Deshaun Watson’s health heading into second-ranked Clemson’s game against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
“No, no doubt,” Elliott said. “He’s got a bruised shoulder, but he came out in the second half and was able to throw the football. But we had the game under control, and (Nick) Schuessler was playing really good at the end of the first half. So, no doubt in my mind.”
Watson suffered a bruised right shoulder in Clemson’s 54-0 victory over Syracuse on Saturday after going down on it at the end of a 13-yard run in the second quarter. Watson missed the rest of the game, but could have played if needed according to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.
Swinney said during his weekly teleconference with the media on Sunday that Watson should be back at practice in the early part of this week.
“He looked good today,” Swinney said. “We will get him some treatment today and tomorrow and then get him back in practice the early part of the week.”
Prior to his early exit, Watson was efficient and effective as he completed 13-of-16 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns while also running for a 39-yard touchdown. Schuessler was solid in relief of Watson, going 11-of-17 for 177 yards and two touchdown passes.
Clemson was up 23-0 near the end of the second quarter when Watson was tackled by a pair of Syracuse defenders and landed on his throwing shoulder.
Asked if he would like to see Watson be more cautious when running the football and slide sooner, Elliott responded that he liked Watson’s demeanor on the play where he got injured.
“That’s what makes Deshaun special is the way that he plays the game, and it was a situation where I really liked his demeanor on the play where he banged up his shoulder,” Elliott said. “He was coming through there violent, I think it was just a function of when he fell down, the guy put some pressure on him.
“So, that’s a tough question because what makes him special is his ability to play on the edge, and when you take that away from a playmaker like him, then you’re not doing the best thing for him.”
One of Watson’s touchdowns came on a perfectly placed 65-yard throw to Deon Cain down the sideline, Clemson’s longest play of the season to this point.
Elliott said Watson has been working hard to improve his accuracy on deep passes after often missing the mark downfield this season, and he was glad to see Watson connect on one heading down the stretch of the season.
“That’s one of the things that I believe Deshaun would agree that he’s really been trying to make sure that he’s connecting on the deep ball,” Elliott said. “I think last year, he had a little bit more precision on the deep ball. He’s been off, he’s missed a couple open receivers this year, so that’s the confidence we need going down because when we can stretch the field vertically, run the football, continue to make you defend us horizontally in the screen game, it allows our offense to be explosive.”