Deshaun Watson Returns
The new look Tigers behinend freshmen Deshaun Watson, tailback Wayne Gallman and receiver Artavis Scott is looking bright as Clemson re-claimed the state with a big win over South Carolina in the Palmetto Bowl.
"How about that?'' Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. "You got young guys making a lot of plays out there.''
Deshaun Watson threw for 269 yards and ran for two touchdowns, playing on a torn ACL coach Dabo Swinney said he hurt two days before last week's game against Georgia State.
Gallman gained 191 yards and a touchdown and Scott took two short inside passes long distance for scores and finished with 185 yards rushing in the 35-17 victory over the rival Gamecocks (6-6) on Saturday.
Clemson had lost five straight, an unprecedented run of failure that overshadowed its Atlantic Coast Conference title in 2011 and a pair of 11-2 seasons in 2012 and 2013. But with the dynamic young players and a defense that lived up its No. 1 ranking, the Tigers (9-3) prevailed.
Clemson players doused coach Dabo Swinney, carried him off the field and celebrated as if they'd won a championship -- and why not after the five straight defeats.
Swinney said afterwards that Watson had torn the ACL in his left knee at practice on Nov. 20. He will play in Clemson's bowl game, then have surgery and return next summer.
Swinney said having Watson back gave the offense a rhythm missing at times this season. "Offensively, we had 491 yards with zero sacks, and Deshaun Watson was unbelievable,'' he said.
Gallman believes it may be Clemson's time to string several wins together. "We're all coming back,'' he said. "We're not going anywhere.''
Watson has missed four full games and most of two others with a broken hand and, most recently, a sprained knee ligament. He hobbled off twice in the opening half, yet was around at the end and finished 14 of 19 for 269 yards and two 1-yard rushing TDs in first significant action since defeating North Carolina State on Oct. 4.
"I knew I was going to feel some pain because I wasn't 100 percent,'' Watson said. ``I just go out with a confident mindset and have fun.''
Clemson's top-ranked defense also helped out, twice stopping the Gamecocks on fourth down in the second half. Defensive end Vic Beasley had two sacks and forced a fumble.
Clemson leads the Palmetto Bowl series 66-42-4.