Watson sore from practice, but ready for physical challenge of LSU

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CLEMSON- The Clemson Tigers put on their pads the same way as the Tigers from Louisiana do, according to junior defensive tackle Josh WatsonJosh Watson
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Watson said Wednesday that there is a perception that just because a player wears the SEC logo on their chest that they are innately tougher, and he wants to prove that perception wrong.

Watson said that the Chick-fil-A Bowl will come down to the line of scrimmage and that he will prove his toughness by making plays and creating room for the linebackers to make plays.

“I’m a man just like they are,” Watson said after Wednesday’s bowl practice. “They put their pads on the same way we do. They aren’t any bigger or stronger than I am, honestly. Whatever they throw at us, I’m ready to take it - plug up my gaps, get off blocks, make some plays and keep them off my linebackers so they can scrape over top and make some plays, too. That’s going to be the key to the game- it’s going to be the trenches on both sides. Offense has to stop their defensive line and defense has to stop their offensive line and get back there and tackle the ball carrier.

“I’d like to prove some people wrong. People like to think we aren’t as physical because they have an SEC logo on their jersey, so they are automatically tougher than us. We want to show them that we put on the pads the same way we do. We can compete at that level as well.”

Watson said that since the beginning of bowl practice, it has been difficult for him to get out of bed because of the physicality they have endured during bowl preparation.

“It’s kind of hard to get out of bed some days,” he said. “Popping a lot of pain pills. Coach Swinney is doing a good job getting us prepared. We did PAW drills a couple of practices ago- three offensive linemen on three defensive linemen and one running back. We have to make the tackle. That’s what it’s going to be like on the 31st so he’s been doing a good job getting us prepared. I think he ‘s going to tone down practice now to get our legs back under us a little bit more and get us ready for our break. I like how the practices are. Just physical like the games are going to be.”

Watson isn’t complaining, however, and said that practices should be physical so that Clemson can make the plays when the game is on the line.

“I think this is the way we have to practice,” he said. “We should be a little sore and a little banged up. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best and this is one of the best teams in the nation. They are two plays away from being in the national championship- two screen passes against Alabama. If you look at our season against FSU and South Carolina, you could say it was about seven plays keeping us from being undefeated. The margin of error is very small. We are trying to be the best team in the nation so we just have to make sure that we make those plays against LSU and make sure that aren’t the ones making those two or three plays that are going to decide the game.”

LSU doesn’t employ many tricks on offense and Watson said he expects their offense to do what they have done all year - run the ball.

“Just a lot of pounding. A physical team with big guys,” he said. “Their trick play may be a half-back toss. Everything else, you know what’s coming. A lead zone to the left and the halfback is coming. He’s a load. We just have to hunker up, get them down and stop the run.

“They’re going to rumble with what works. They run the ball very well and I don’t think they’ll switch it up now. They run a lot of one-receiver routes. If the guy isn’t open, I guess they throw it out of bounds. Other than that, they are just running the ball and trying to run it down our throats.”

LSU will use multiple running backs and Watson said that the defensive line will have a rotation of its own to maintain a solid front.

“They’ve got some physical backs,” he said. “They have three or four guys that one gets tired, they just run the next one in there and he’s just as physical running down hill. We have to make sure we are fresh and we are going to have our own rotation with us too to keep us fresh, solid and stout to protect the line of scrimmage. We’ve just got to hit them low and get those guys off of our linebackers so we can swarm to the ball.”

Watson knows that the defense’s job is to get the ball back for Clemson’s potent offense, and he fully expects LSU head coach Les Miles to take a page out of Steve Spurrier’s playbook and slow the game down.

“Coach Swinney said he talked to Coach Spurrier,” he said. “Coach Spurrier said he was amazed at how much other teams snap the ball fast on us. He wasn’t going to do that. He was going to take his time, make the reads and get the conversion. That’s what he did. It seemed like whenever South Carolina needed a big play, they got one. I think LSU is going to do the same- hold the ball, take their time, get in the huddle, run the ball, get their three or four yards every play and keep our offense off the field because they know how dangerous they are. We just have to get our offense the ball back and get them into a rhythm. We should have a good game against them.”

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