Quick hits with Deshaun Watson

CLEMSON - Deshaun Watson talks about his first start Saturday against UNC and much more in this report.

What was it like on the sideline when Coach Morris came up to you, or Dabo, whichever one said you’re next up?
Watson: It was the same thing as other weeks before, it’s the same as they said before. I went in there and took advantage of my opportunity. Then I was just waiting and he said “Watson you’re still up,” and I just kept going in and trying to help the team win.

What’s it going to feel like Saturday night starting a game here at Death Valley?
Watson: Of course it’s going to be exciting, my first game starting in front of all the Clemson fans in my home stadium. It’s going to be pretty exciting, a lot of nerves, but I’m ready for it.

How different is starting as compared to just coming in the second quarter?
Watson: You have to start off fast. The energy and the team is going to lead off of you, the starting quarterback, so you just got to go out there and start off fast and run some good plays.

They kept saying “Watson you’re up,” what was going through your mind at that point knowing that at some point the rest of this game was yours? At what part did you realize that?
Watson: Just focusing on that play and getting a touchdown. Every drive we try to score. We had some opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on, so each drive I went out there and tried to help the team the best way I can.

Coach Swinney last night said that Cole was helpful, especially in the second half, with you on the sidelines. Can you talk about what that says about him and how he really gets it?
Watson: Right, this game is more than just some great player or some good players not having a good game, it’s about the team. Cole was helping me out making sure I was getting the right reading of the checks and being vocal, and making sure all the other guys were just being calm and going onto the next play. It’s way more than about me or any kind of coach, it’s about the whole team.

We know that Chad Morris has said quarterback is not a position, it’s an office. It’s your first week doing that, has he given you any advice about ways to carry yourself? How do you plan to prepare yourself to be the leader of this football team?
Watson: There’s no difference, I prepared myself to be the leader three weeks ago too. The starting quarterback and the backup quarterback is pretty much the same thing, you always have to be ready for that time because you never know what’s going to happen. I’m going to prepare like I did the past couple of weeks and go out there and do what I can do to help the team.

Before the season started, how much did you think about becoming the starter and did you ever imagine you that you would be inserted this early in the season?
Watson: I never really thought about being a starter, I just go out there and do what I can do and be the best player I can be. Once you get too caught up in all the hype and become the starter, you lose track of the real reason why you’re on this team. Each play I just went in there, do what I can do, play my role, and it just happens to be this week that I’m the starter.

I imagine that there hasn’t been any animosity between Cole and you, Cole’s disappointed obviously, but do you still feel like you can lean on him if need be?
Watson: Oh yeah, Cole’s a great guy. No matter who’s starting or leading off the game, we are still going to be good friends, we’re still going to feed off each other to make sure we’re doing the right thing. Win or lose, me and him are still going to be great friends, long after football. All this hype of me being the starter and Cole not isn’t going to change anything.

When were you told you were going to start this week. Did Dabo tell you?
Watson: I found out Sunday. I read it online, but I wasn’t sure if it was true.

What was your reaction?
Watson: My reaction was- I didn’t really say too much about it- I just smiled and thought that I need to prepare myself for this moment.

What are some of the things you have to improve on next week?
Watson: Not just me, but the whole team just finishing. We had a couple of times we were in the red zone that we didn’t capitalize on. Just the little things that could have changed the outcome of the game. But hey, the offense, defense, and special teams all played their hardest. We went to the number one team in the country, primetime, and fought until the end. I give props to all the guys on the team, we just have to look forward and get ready for North Carolina.

Did you ever have that moment where you’re sitting there, playing against the defending National Champions in Tallahassee and you think, “man, I’m going up against these guys?”
Watson: To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about Florida State being the National Champion. I was just trying to win. But after the game, I was reminiscing on the plane ride and all the good things we did against the National Champions on the road, and all the things we can learn from this.

How did you learn to be calm?
Watson: I’m not even sure, I guess my mom. Whenever she went through her cancer, it was kind of hard, and my mom just said “make sure you pray, stay calm, know everything’s going to be alright, and just have faith.” So I have confidence in myself and all of my teammates.

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