Ever since Clemson lost to Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship Game last year, the Tigers have been one of the hot topics in college football.
In the preseason, all the talk was about quarterback Deshaun Watson and his candidacy for the Heisman Trophy, which at the time seemed like a foregone conclusion. As for the Clemson football team, it opened the year as the No. 2 team in the country and by many as the preseason favorite to win it all.
But with the spotlight shining down on Watson and the Tigers, so to were scrutiny and negativity, two of the biggest adjustments Watson and his team had to adapt to this season.
“It is been a roller coaster just because of all the attention that has been going my way and as my name gets bigger, there are more negative things that pop up,” Watson said on Tuesday as he spoke to the media for the first time since being named a Heisman Finalist on Monday night.
Though the Tigers finished the season 12-1, won a second straight ACC Championship and earned a second straight trip to the College Football Playoff, Watson felt as if he and his teammates had to deal with more of the negative issues during the season than anything good they had achieved.
“Everyone wants to find out the negative things about that person,” he said. “There have been more positive things than bad things that have been going on, but there are always things people try to bring up, the flaws and weaknesses. It is very rare for people to be perfect.”
Watson threw for 3,914 yards and a school-record 37 touchdowns this year, but he feels like all anyone wanted to talk about was his 15 interceptions.
“No one is perfect, but that’s all they want to talk about in the media,” he said.
Though the Tigers achieved their goal and will be playing Ohio State in the CFP semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve, Watson said no one in the locker room is resting on their laurels, though the criticism has seemed to go away as of late.
“No one at this program or at this facility is relaxed. There is never enough time to be relaxed,” Watson said. “You can never be satisfied and be chilled because there is always something you can work on and get better at. Once you get relaxed and complacent that’s when bad things and failure is going to happen.
“It’s nice relief knowing we have a chance to go back to the national championship game, but at the same time we have to go put in the work and go earn it.”