South Carolina’s defense spent most of Saturday night trying to hold down a mobile FCS quarterback and struggling to do so.
This week, the difficulty gets turned up a notch.
Gamecocks football coach Will Muschamp knows plenty about Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and already has plenty of respect for the 2015 Heisman finalist.
“He’s not a good player, he’s a great player,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy that’s up for the Heisman, and if they give it to him, they’re not making a mistake. He’s really good. So he’s a guy that we’ve got a lot of respect for.”
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Muschamp has never coached against the Tigers junior, but he was part of ESPN’s “Film Room” broadcast last year, when Watson took it to Muschamp’s former boss Nick Saban and Alabama in the national title game.
Watson hasn’t been quite the shining star he was last season, but he’s still thrown for 3,279 yards, 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a 147.8 rating. He’s also run for 425 yards and four scores at the helm of one of the better offenses nationally.
Last year in Columbia, he tagged the Gamecocks with 279 passing yards, 114 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. As a freshman, he had 269 yards on 19 passes and four combined scores.
Coming off a game in which Western Carolina’s quarterback repeatedly broke contain and missed tackles led to big plays, the Gamecocks are plenty wary or what’s coming in Death Valley.
“We’re going to need to play extremely well,” Muschamp said. “We’re going to have to tackle better. Tonight we had guys in position to tackle. You can’t butt guys down. You’ve got to wrap and run your feet. ... They’re going to create a lot of space plays too. We’ve got to make plays in space.”
South Carolina vs. Clemson
Who: South Carolina at Clemson
When: Saturday, Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson