FRESHMAN QUARTERBACK’S AVAILABILITY WILL BE A “GAME-TIME DECISION”
By FITSNEWS || Clemson University starting quarterback Deshaun Watson has been listed as “questionable” for this weekend’s big rivalry game against the University of South Carolina. Coaches say his availability will be a “game-time decision.”
The participation of the freshman phenom – who injured his left knee against Georgia Tech – is seen as key to the Tigers’ chances of breaking a five-game losing streak against the Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5 SEC), who enter this game unranked for the first time in five seasons.
If Watson can’t play, No. 23 Clemson (8-3, 6-2 SEC) will be forced to rely on fifth-year senior quarterback Cole Stoudt – who has struggled at the helm of coordinator Chad Morris’ up-tempo offense. Stoudt has thrown for 1,576 yards and six touchdowns but he’s been picked off nine times. By contrast Watson has 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Stoudt is also still a bit gimpy, suffering a shoulder sprain two weeks ago against Georgia Tech that knocked him out of that game.
Whoever starts for Clemson should find the sledding far less tough than it has been in recent years, though. That’s because this Gamecock defense is a far cry from the units that shut down former Tiger quarterback Tajh Boyd over the last three years. After ranking among the nation’s elite units from 2011-13, coordinator Lorenzo Ward‘s troops have been shredded all year long – and have coughed up three two-touchdown leads in the fourth quarter.
Anyway, Clemson enters the game as a 4.5-point favorite at home … where it has lost two in a row to the Gamecocks.
Kickoff is at 12:00 p.m. EST on Saturday from Death Valley. ESPN will televise the game nationally, with Steve Levy, Kelly Stouffer and Dawn Davenport providing coverage.