Clemson had one play to score a touchdown from the 2-yard line against the best defense in the country Monday night to clinch its first national title since 1981. Tigers co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was confident he had the call to get the job done.
According to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, Scott was “adamant” the Tigers would score if they ran “crush.” They did, and Deshaun Watson found Hunter Renfrow for the game-winning touchdown with one second remaining.
The play is a bit of a pick play where Artavis Scott’s job is to get in front of Renfrow’s man. Scott did his part and Renfrow was wide open in the flat. Watson placed the ball perfectly between his numbers.
“I felt very confident because of the success that we’ve had with it in the past,” Scott said. “That’s a play that we’ve kind of kept in our back pocket for exactly whenever we’ve needed it in the past.”
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Scott added from film study he noticed Alabama usually plays man coverage inside the 5.
“The play before that I saw the matchup they were playing man and not zone,” he said. “We felt like when we came to the next play it would be there.”
Fellow co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott normally calls Clemson’s plays, but he was happy to give the nod to Scott on the biggest play of the season and one of the biggest in Tigers’ history.
“We had a couple of ideas that we were kicking around and Jeff said, ‘Hey, no, this is going to work,’ ” Elliott recalled. “I said, ‘Hey man, I trust you brother, let’s go win it.’ Once Jeff suggested it there was really no conversation after that, let’s roll with it.”
FOR THE FORMER PLAYERS
Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware stated on the podium after the national title game, and again Tuesday morning at a news conference, that Clemson’s win over Alabama was for all of the former Tigers players who helped the program get to this point, not just for Clemson’s current players.
“The guys that came before us, our forefathers like C.J. Spiller, Tajh Boyd. … The Stephone Anthonys, the Grady Jarretts that showed me how to work and go to work and grind every day and become a leader,” Boulware said. “So those are the ones that started this foundation, and this senior class is the one to put the finishing touches on it.”
Watson grew up watching Vince Young and dreamed of having a game like Young did in the 2006 Rose Bowl when he led Texas to an upset win over Southern Cal for the national title.
Watson’s performance was similar to Young’s as he put up monster numbers and scored late to clinch the title over the defending champions.
“I just remember that night and sitting in my mom’s room because I always have football on, and just seeing him really running to the corner of the end zone and kind of jumping up, and then at the end just seeing all the confetti come down,” Watson said. “It’s one of those games that last night where it just came down to the very end, and he pulled it out, and I did the same thing for my team.”