Will coaches run the quarterback less in 2015 to protect Watson? Swinney says no
|Sunday, March 1, 2015 8:01 AM- -|
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View Full Profile is no stranger to running the football, but many Clemson fans who watched the freshman signal caller suffer significant injuries on running plays last season would rather see the Georgia native run the football less in 2015.
Watson carried the ball 63 times in 330 snaps last season, which is close to an average one carry in every five plays. During his high school career, Watson rushed for 4,057 yards and entered Clemson as a true dual-threat quarterback who had the resume of being durable despite the running workload.
However, he suffered a knee injury towards the end of his high school career, a collarbone injury last spring and a hand injury against Louisville that caused him to miss three games. Watson made his much-anticipated return for the Tigers’ game at Georgia Tech and carried the ball on seven of Clemson’s first 18 offensive plays, gaining 40 yards in the process.
It was that seventh carry that cost him, however, as he suffered another knee injury and missed the rest of Clemson’s eventual 28-6 loss. He returned and beat South Carolina on a torn ACL a few weeks later, but sat out the bowl game after undergoing surgery to repair the knee.
So the Tigers will run Watson less in 2015? Not according to Swinney, who was asked during his pre-spring press conference Friday if the coaching staff would try and protect Watson with less carries next season.
“No. We run the zone read. That’s what we do,” Swinney said in the WestZone. “That’s why he (Watson) came here, is to impact the game with his feet and his arm. You don’t play the game in fear. Deshaun Watson got hurt when nobody touched him. He just planted, and cut on air and tore his ACL. We’re going to get the ball to him. Hopefully we have a complete surrounding cast around him, which makes everything better. But if you’re going to be a zone-read offense, and the quarterback’s not going to be a factor, then you’re not going to be very effective.”
Swinney then pointed the health of former quarterbacks
Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
Quarterback (2009 - 2013)
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View Full Profile and Kyle ParkerKyle Parker
Quarterback (2008 - 2010)
#11 6-1, 200
View Full Profile and said that if the Tigers need to run the quarterback 50 times in a game to win, then they will run him 50 times.
“We’ve never had a problem with quarterbacks being healthy. This year was the first time I’ve ever lost a quarterback due to injury,” Swinney said. “Kyle Parker never missed a game. Tajh Boyd never missed a game. Just kind of one of those years. Fluky thing with a broken finger; if it’d been on the left hand, he never would have missed a game. It just happened to be on the pointer finger. Whatever we got to do to give us the best chance to win, whether it’s run the quarterback 50 times, throw it 50 times or hand the ball off 50 times, that’s what we’re going to do. I think we will have a very balanced cast of characters who will help us. And Deshaun’s got to be smart and take care of himself, but physically he’s never had a problem staying on the field.”