By Philip Sikes // Athletic Communications
Unless you’ve lived under a rock as a Clemson football fan, you know we’re talking about quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The record-setting rookie signal-caller is scheduled to take all the first-team reps this week in practice as the Tigers prepare for the formidable challenge of facing No. 23 Georgia Tech in Atlanta at noon on Saturday.
Watson, of course, was in the midst of a terrific stretch of performances when he broke a finger on his throwing hand early in the going against Louisville on Oct. 11.
“I’m just happy to be back out there with my teammates,” Watson said. “As an offense, we just have to play our role and put up some points.”
At the time of the injury, Watson was second nationally in passing efficiency to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. In his stead, senior Cole Stoudt admirably led the Tigers to four straight victories, including the one over Louisville when he was forced into action after missing practice the previous week due to a shoulder injury.
“It was a great learning experience for me to watch Cole and the poise he played with at the end of each game,” Watson said. “That’s what veterans do.”
Now, it’s the rookie’s turn to again take the reins of the offense. Watson displayed plenty of dual-threat capabilities early in the season, particularly against NC State when he rushed for 62 yards and two touchdowns and accounted for four total as the Tigers blanked the Wolfpack, 41-0.
The Tigers’ zone-read should be a factor Saturday given the recent emergence of freshman Wayne Gallman, who was named ACC Rookie of the Week today. Gallman has rushed for over 100 yards in two straight games, wins over Syracuse and Wake Forest.
The threat both athletes provide the same backfield brought a smile to offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ face Monday when he met with the local media.
“Hopefully, Deshaun can add to what Wayne has established the last few weeks,” he said. “With Deshaun back, we’re excited to see what they can do in the zone-read game.”
Tiger fans are just happy to see him back, period.
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