Every coach preaches to his quarterback to have a short-term memory and move on to the next play quickly after a mistake. Deshaun Watson’s ability to do so is a large part of what makes him elite.
Watson has attempted 43 passes or more in four of Clemson’s eight games, and more than 50 passes twice. With that many attempts, interceptions are naturally going to occur, whether it be a mistake by Watson, a receiver or a tipped pass.
One reason co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and the rest of Clemson’s staff don’t mind airing the ball out is because they don’t have to worry about interceptions causing Watson to fall apart later in the game.
Through eight games, the junior has 22 passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but only one of his interceptions has come in the fourth quarter.
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“That’s why he is who he is,” Elliott said after Saturday’s 37-34 victory over Florida State. “There’s been a lot of great quarterbacks to come through Clemson, a lot of great quarterbacks to play in college, but he’s going to go down as one of the best because he has that ability to always rebound if things aren’t perfect.”
The latest example of Watson putting a mistake in the past in a hurry came Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The Seminoles rallied from a 14-0 deficit to take a 28-20 lead into the fourth quarter of the top-15 showdown, and had all the momentum. It didn’t keep it for long as the last three drives for the Tigers resulted in points, with two touchdowns and a field goal.
“It’s going to be adversity,” Watson said of his interceptions. “That wasn’t me. On the inside, I knew I was better than that. At the end of the day, the game isn’t over.”
Watson led similar drives earlier this season in a top-five showdown with Louisville. The Georgia native threw three interceptions against the Cardinals, including one midway through the third quarter.
But the Tigers responded with back-to-back touchdown drives to close the game and grab control of the ACC Atlantic Division.
“I think he’s the best player in the country,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of Watson Saturday night. “He’s pretty special. He answers the bell. He’s not perfect. He’s not a robot, but I don’t know any other player that is.
“He’s just a winner… If I’m starting a team I’m picking Deshaun Watson right now. I’m into winning, and that’s what he’s into.”
Who: Syracuse at Clemson
When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium
TV: ABC or ESPN2