The Throw will go down in Clemson lore if Tigers win championship
|Monday, November 30, 2015 4:52 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Denver has The Drive and The Fumble. Clemson will have The Throw.
Top-ranked Clemson defeated arch-rival 37-32 Saturday in Columbia to remain undefeated and in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff. If the Tigers make it to the playoff, they might be able to look back at “The Throw” as one of the key plays in getting them there.
During the third quarter of Saturday’s game, the Gamecocks had just scored and trimmed Clemson’s advantage to just three at 28-25. Momentum was wearing garnet and black, and the Tigers needed a big play and a touchdown. They got both on the drive.
Facing third-and-seven on the South Carolina 33 with just under 10 minutes to play, the coaching staff called a conservative play that would likely lead to a field goal. Once the team got set at the line of scrimmage, however, Swinney elected to call a timeout.
"We were down there, and we had a situation where we might could have come out with five more yards and come out and maybe kick a field goal," Swinney said. "(On the headset) 'Look, we are here to win a national championship. Let's play.’”
On Monday, co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott described what was being said on the headsets as the coaches debated what to call.
“Obviously, that was a critical drive, and we wanted to get points out of it. It was a third-and-long and we had another play called and at the last second we didn't like the look they were giving us so Coach Swinney called timeout,” Scott said Monday in the WestZone. “I think we got to the play that we ended up calling pretty quickly. It was a play that we had called earlier in the drive before, and we felt pretty certain when we went empty of what look we were going to get from the defensive side of the ball.”
As Watson left the huddle, wide receiver Trevion Thompson decided to let his quarterback know he would be open.
“We just have a lot of guys that whenever they get the opportunity they take advantage of it. Actually, I give the credit to Trevion on that play,” Watson said Monday. “When we came out of the huddle - we had called a similar play earlier in the drive - he told me, 'Look for me. I am going to get you right and I am going to be open. The corner is not really biting on me, and I am going to make the move on the safety and I am going to get a first down.' I trusted him, and he did what he said he was going to do.”
Scott said Thompson wasn’t the primary receiver on the play.
“To be honest, we thought it was going to go to the boundary to where Deon Cain and Charone Peake were kind of high-low in the corner over there, but when you have Deshaun Watson at quarterback he sees things very well and he saw a look he liked to the field,” Scott said. “Give Trevion a lot of credit because he really was not the primary target on that play, but he ran his route. We always tell our wideouts that it doesn't matter who the primary read is for the quarterback, you run your route like he's throwing it to you and that way when he does you're not surprised and you're where you're supposed to be. To be honest, we were in empty, there were five guys that could've gotten the ball, and Deshaun worked his way to the field and the ball showed up right there to Trevion on one of the biggest plays of the year.”
Watson took the snap, looked the safeties off with a glance to the right, and then rifled a 24-yard pass to Thompson for a first down at the South Carolina nine-yard line. Watson would score a touchdown three plays later, leaving Scott and the coaches to marvel at the throw.
“I think anytime you're making a throw from one hash all the way to the other field about 20 yards down the field, that's a big time throw,” Scott said. “There's not a lot of guys that can make that throw, but he definitely can.”
Watson shrugged off the throw Monday – as is his way – and gave the credit to his wide receiver,
“We got a first down and got points on that drive. I give him (Thompson) credit on that,” Watson said. “That is the kind of players we have on this team. No one is selfish and no one is taking all of the credit. We spread it around. This is a family on this team and I love it.”