Streeter finds success with Watson after chaos of early days
|Monday, February 15, 2016, 2:36 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Chad Morris was hired as the head coach at SMU on December 1st of 2014, but Morris’ move had been in the works and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney already had a replacement in mind in former Tiger quarterback Brandon Streeter.
Streeter’s Richmond Spider team was competing in the FCS playoffs, however, and Swinney and Streeter both wanted to wait until the Spiders’ season was complete before talking about making a move. On December 6th, the Spiders lost a 36-15 decision to Coastal Carolina in the second round of the playoffs and a week later Streeter was on board with the Tigers.
Streeter walked into a maelstrom of sorts – replacing Morris were new co-offensive coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott, leaving Streeter to work with senior quarterback Cole Stoudt as the Tigers prepared to take on Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Streeter was also tasked with getting to know his prize pupil in Deshaun Watson, who would have surgery in early January to repair a torn ACL.
Stoudt responded to Streeter’s coaching with perhaps the best performance of his career, completing 26 of 36 attempts for a season-high 319 yards. He was sacked four times, but Clemson never turned the ball over as Clemson rolled to the win over the Sooners.
Streeter reflected on those early days during a press conference last week, and he was asked how much Morris was able to prepare him for the challenges he would face. The answer? Not a lot.
“To be honest with you, I talked with Coach Morris on the phone maybe one time,” Streeter said. “And then I met him for the first time when he was already at SMU, and he came back into town. I got to see him around here and we got to communicate a little bit - maybe for about 30 minutes or so. We really didn't talk about the players as much...it was more just chit-chat and getting to know each other a little bit.”
Streeter’s effect on Watson has been apparent. Watson led the Tigers to a No. 2 finish in the final polls after capping a 14-1 season with a 45-40 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship game. Watson was electric against the Crimson Tide, racking up 478 yards of total offense (405 passing, 73 rushing), the most by any player in a CFP or BCS title game.
For the season, Watson ranked among the FBS’ top-10 quarterbacks in five significant statistical categories: completion percentage (67.8, fifth); touchdown passes (35, eighth); total offense (347.3 yards per game, eighth); passing yards (4,104, ninth) and points responsible for per game (18.8, ninth).
Streeter said he thinks Watson benefitted from 1-on-1 instruction.
“I think the biggest difference is when Chad was here, he was the offensive coordinator, so he had a lot more going on,” he said. “He's calling plays, and he's making a lot of decisions. I was able to focus more on just the quarterback. I think that's probably the biggest difference in what the quarterbacks would tell you from my teaching and what I do and what Chad did. He had a lot going on. He was making a lot of decisions. So I'm able to hone in and say, 'Hey, what can I do to make these quarterbacks better each and every day. So just maybe being more detailed with footwork and those sorts of things.”