Football

Clemson’s Watson says Tigers ‘not close’ to ready for opener

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4)
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) tdominick@thestate.com

Clemson’s offense is expected to pick up where it left off last season when the Tigers open the season at Auburn Sept. 3, but Tigers All-American quarterback Deshaun Watson said after Saturday’s scrimmage the unit still has plenty of work to do to be ready for Week 1.

“We’re not close,” he said when asked if the offense is ready for Auburn. “We still have three weeks. It’s camp, so we’re putting in a lot of information. We’re not going to be where we want to be until later on in the season. It’s a work in progress.”

With that said, Watson expects the unit to be where it needs to be in order to compete for a championship as the year progresses.

“We have a full year and it takes time. ... Where we start Game 1 won’t be the same as where we are Game 12,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be a lot better, a lot more comfortable and doing a lot more exciting things.”

Watson impressed in the limited action he received in the scrimmage, going 7-for-10 for 115 yards and two scores.

He appears to have recaptured his chemistry with All-ACC performer Mike Williams, who played one series in the opener in 2015 before being lost for the year.

The two connected for a 40-yard gain on the first play of the scrimmage, and Watson said Williams looks like the guy who led Clemson in receiving yards in 2014.

“He’s a confident guy. He catches everything that’s thrown his way. He’s just a great teammate to be around,” Watson said.

In addition to Williams, Clemson returns proven wideouts Artavis Scott, Ray-Ray McCloud, Hunter Renfrow and Deon Cain.

“All my receivers that I’ve had a chance to go in a game with or practice with, we’re all comfortable with one another and communicate well, so it’s been good,” Watson said.

“I feel good. I’m confident, comfortable. I trust my guys. I trust my coaching staff and what they’re preparing me with.”

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney added he doesn’t focus a whole lot on what Watson is doing because there are other question marks that require more of his attention, but he feels like the junior will be even better in 2016.

“He’s bigger, stronger, doesn’t have the knee brace. He’s even more confident now than what he was at this time last year,” Swinney said. “He’s a guy that grinds every single day, doesn’t take anything for granted. ... That number four, he’s going to do what he’s supposed to do when you ain’t looking, I promise you.”

Watson last season

Deshaun Watson’s passing stats in 2015:

Game

C-A

Yards

TD

Int.

Wofford

18-22

194

2

0

App. State

19-26

248

3

1

Louisville

21-30

199

2

2

Notre Dame

10-21

84

2

1

Georgia. Tech

21-30

265

2

1

Boston College

27-41

420

3

2

Miami

15-19

143

1

0

N.C. State

23-30

383

5

0

Florida State

28-42

297

1

0

Syracuse

35-48

368

2

1

Wake Forest

24-35

343

3

2

South Carolina

20-27

279

1

0

North Carolina

26-42

289

3

1

Oklahoma

16-31

187

1

1

Alabama

30-47

405

4

1

Totals

333-491

4,104

35

13

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