ESPN analyst discusses how Watson can win Heisman


by - Assoc. Editor -
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Watson was a Heisman finalist last season

ESPN analysts Joe Tessitore and Todd Blackledge had a media conference call on Monday to discuss several topics including the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy award in Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.

"This year it's Watson with two running backs," Tessitore said. "It's Watson, Fournette, and McCaffrey who carry that status going into the season. Deliver on what you're supposed to do and what you've already done, and you'll be in the front row in New York."

Tessitore has been actively watching the Heisman race over the years and acknowledges that a big-time performance at the end of the season can propel someone to win the Heisman.

"What we've been noticing when we track the Heisman in recent years is with the internet voting and everybody voting online after the championship games, he who moves last moves best," Tessitore said. "You don't want to be out in front of the Heisman race early. You want to make your move in November and surge. His biggest Heisman-defining moment will come on October 29th at Florida State against another Heisman candidate just a notch below him in terms of perception, against Dalvin Cook. And then in the month of November, up until he plays in the ACC Championship game, Deshaun is going to have a lot of games where he's expected to win easily, to put up stats, but nothing that's going to grab everybody's attention. It's Syracuse and Pitt and Wake Forest and South Carolina. So come the week after that, it's Leonard Fournette and the question of can he finally gets over the Alabama mountaintop on November 5th in a game that's very similar in my eyes to the Florida State-Clemson game in sort of a de facto in-conference playoff eliminator."

Tessitore knows that a tremendous game by Fournette against Alabama could boost the running back's Heisman chances considerably.

"So I think Deshaun is going to be just fine, but October 29th will define whether he's in that lead seat heading into November of the Heisman race, but then Leonard Fournette is going to have an opportunity, as he did a year ago but then was overtaken by Derrick Henry, to then take the next step back and surge ahead," Tessitore said.

Watson completed 333 of 491 passes for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns and also had 207 rushes for 1105 yards and 12 scores this past season. His 5,209 yards of total offense and his 47 total touchdowns were ACC records, and his rushing total was a record for a Clemson quarterback.

His 487 yards of total offense set a record for a National Championship game, and he is the first quarterback in FBS history to have at least 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season.

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