The Deacs are coming off a tough loss to Louisville and one of the ACC’s best players in Lamar Jackson last weekend, and unfortunately, things aren’t getting any easier this week. Clemson and Deshaun Watson are coming to Winston-Salem this Saturday off of a loss, which likely means they are going to be locked in and ready to make a statement. Here are a couple players you should watch, though unless you haven’t watched an NCAA game in a few years, you probably already know this one already.
Offense: Deshaun Watson | Jr. QB | #4
This was one of the easier picks of players to watch, as Watson is one of the best players in the nation. He’s such a good player, in fact, that he was honored last week at Clemson’s Senior Day because he is most assuredly declaring for the NFL draft at the end of the season. Watson had an absolutely incredible year last season, throwing for 35 TDs and rushing for 12 on his way to picking up a plethora of awards, including: ACC Player of the Year, First Team All-ACC, First Team All-American, and third place in Heisman voting. This season he is 256-387 (66.1%) for 3077 yards, 27 TDs and 13 Ints through the air. On the ground, he has run the ball 99 times for 387 yards and just 2 TDs. While he is always a threat to run , Watson appears to be being utilized less in the run game this season(for comparison, he rushed for 1105 yards and 12 TDs last season). The reason for this is likely that the Clemson offense is more pass heavy this season than a year ago, with Watson throwing the ball 10 more times per game than he did in 2015. To go along with that, in his last game he threw a career high 70 pass attempts. This is probably unfortunate for the Deacs, as the secondary, which hasn’t been our strong suit all year, is riddled with injuries. With Clemson losing last week, I’m fully expecting Watson to come out sharp and super focused, putting a ton of pressure on a beat up Wake secondary.
Defense: Ben Boulware | Sr. LB | #10
Boulware leads Clemson in total tackles this season with 82. He’s also picked up 6.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 Int and 2 forced fumbles on the year. He was an honorable mention All American and First Team All-ACC player a season ago, and he will likely pick up more awards at the end of this year. Boulware is a tenacious linebacker that plays with a great deal of intensity on every play. If you need proof that, watch him take Dontae Strickland to Suplex City below. This will be another game where the Deacs will really need to grind out the clock and keep Clemson’s offense off the field if they want a shot at a W. Boulware will probably make that pretty difficult. One of the reasons Boulware is my player to watch, aside from being a really good linebacker, is that I am VERY intrigued by a Boulware-Carney match-up. Seems like the perfect “unstoppable force-immovable object” type scenario, and I’m excited to finally have an answer to which wins.