Football

Deshaun Watson a calming force for Clemson

Clemson will face a tough environment at Auburn, but having a guy like Deshaun Watson helps.
Clemson will face a tough environment at Auburn, but having a guy like Deshaun Watson helps. tdominick@thestate.com

No current Clemson player was on the team when the Tigers played at Auburn in 2010, but co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott knows all-too-well how loud Jordan-Hare Stadium can get.

At practice this week, and throughout fall camp, Scott has emphasized to his offense that it must tune out the crowd noise and not get caught up in the environment for the Tigers to avoid being upset in Week 1.

“It was very loud,” Scott said of the 2010 contest. “You’re always worried about pre-snap procedure, communication, all of those type of things in the very first game of the year. As coaches, that’s always something you’re concerned with, but when you’re on the road in a hostile environment, I think it magnifies that even more.”

Clemson has a veteran offensive group, led by perhaps the most dynamic player in college football in Deshaun Watson, and all of the Tigers’ skill position players who’ll start on Saturday have played in big games and tough environments before.

But Clemson will start two new offensive linemen at Auburn, which has Scott worried about pre-snap penalties.

“It’s probably one of the biggest things that you’re concerned with going into it,” he said. “We’ll have plenty of noise out there this week while our offense is practicing getting ready for that.”

Having Watson in the huddle to keep his teammates from getting too anxious certainly helps.

Whether facing Wofford in September or Alabama in the national championship game, Watson has shown a knack for being able to stay calm no matter the situation.

“It’s a big-time matchup, primetime. It’s no surprise that it’s going to be loud and crazy, but we’re going to enjoy it. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen before,” Watson said. “Regardless of the opponent, we’re still going to compete at a high level. … We’re still going to play Clemson football, and that’s be the best and dominate. That’s our mentality.”

Watson shared the advice he’ll offer his teammates before the game.

“It’s football. Just enjoy it, have fun. This is what you came here for, to play in big games like this,” he said. “Just cut it loose. Don’t think about making mistakes or anything like that. Just react and go play football. You’ve been playing it your whole life. There’s nothing different, just more people watching.”

Scott said having an elite quarterback makes his teammates feel a little better about the situation.

“One of the many positive traits that Deshaun has is his demeanor is the same every day. He never gets rattled. He has a quiet confidence when he steps in that huddle that’s contagious to all the players,” Scott said. “That’s who Deshaun’s been since the day he got here. … That’s what those elite players, elite quarterbacks look like. That’s how their demeanor is. They never change.”

Game info

Who: Clemson vs. Auburn

When: 9 p.m., Saturday

Where: Jordan Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.

TV: ESPN

Line: Clemson by 7 1/2

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