Deshaun Watson poses problem for Alabama defense

Kelly Ward

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is a force of nature. 

A little over a year after injuring a ligament in his knee and undergoing surgery to repair it, he finished third in the Heisman vote and is a win away from leading his team to an undefeated season and second title in school history.

The Gainesville, Georgia native had plenty of offers to play in college.

“We wanted him,” Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. “We wanted him bad.”

Watson has completed 68 percent of his 444 pass attempts for 3,699 yards and 31 touchdowns. He’s been intercepted 12 times and sacked only 13. On the ground, the dual-threat quarterback has 1,032 net yards and 12 scores, tied for most on the team.

“He’s tough,” Smart said. “You have two choices, you can come after the guy and try and keep him in the pen, or you can sit back and try have someone spying and then he can stand there and throw the ball in the pocket. It’s tough to defend a dual-threat quarterback. He extends plays. A lot of their biggest plays are broken down plays. He does a great job of that.”

Freshman Blake Barnett and early-enrollee Jalen Hurts have been simulating Watson on the scout team for the Crimson Tide.

“We got two fresh guys to keep rolling in, but obviously they can’t give the exact same picture, but they’ve done good so far,” Smart said. “The biggest thing we can’t simulate is the tempo – and the tempo is what they try to use as their advantage.”