Deshaun Watson looked as though his torn ACL never happened last year, shining in the pocket and running without concern as his Clemson Tigers opened their season with a blowout 49-10 win over the Wofford Terriers.
In the entire game, of which he only played a majority of the first half, Watson completed 18 of 22 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns while also adding 22 rush yards on two carries. With Clemson up 35-7 at halftime, benching him was the clear thing to do.
From the get-go, it was clear that Tigers coach Dabo Swinney wanted to feature Watson prominently in the offense, but also get the running backs involved heavily so that less strain was put on the star quarterback. That plan worked perfectly as Clemson ran for 222 yards and five touchdowns on the day, with Wayne Gallman leading the way with 92 yards and two touchdowns.
But the star of the offense was Watson, who got Clemson on the board with a four-yard pass to Mike Williams in the first quarter. The pass was ruled incomplete at first, but then reversed upon review. Unfortunately, Williams hit his head on the goalpost padding as he went down and was put on a stretcher before being carted off the field, though he did salute the crowd as the cart drove off the field.
But the highlight of Watson’s day was a screen pass to Artavis Scott, who took the ball 35 yards up the sideline for a touchdown.
No huddle ➡️ Deshaun ➡️ Artavis ➡️ Six.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) September 5, 2015
Backup Nick Schuessler then took over in the second half, and the rest was gravy. Though Watson only played in the first half, it’s hard to fault Swinney and his staff for their decision. In a blowout game against an FCS opponent, better to get him off the field and rest his surgically repaired knee than to keep him playing and risk further injury.
Watson and Clemson’s next test takes place on September 12, when the Sun Belt’s Appalachian State Mountaineers come to visit Memorial Stadium. If the offense can run on all cylinders against Appalachian State like it did against Wofford, then 2015 could be looking bright for Clemson.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports