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Here’s why Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is so dangerous for Ohio State

The Clemson quarterback is good. Really good. And when he’s on, he’s unstoppable.

ACC Championship - Clemson v Virginia Tech Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Deshaun Watson is very good at football. He’s arguably the best second-best dual-threat quarterback in the country and he’s borderline unstoppable when he’s on. With that said: Watson can be stopped.

Well...stopped might be a strong word. Let’s go with contained. Watson had seven games this season with three-plus passing touchdowns, but he also threw multiple interceptions in four games. Clemson is not afraid to stretch the field and this philosophy combined with a fearless signal caller has resulted in some bad decisions from time to time. Still, like Ohio State, there is so much talent on the offense that Watson and company are often able to turn nothing into a big play.

Clemson has several different weapons on offense that are more than capable of making game-changing plays. Artavis Scott is a shifty receiver that will attempt to make life difficult from the slot. Running back Wayne Gallman combines tackle-breaking ability with the speed to go the distance. Mike Williams may be the best wide receiver in the country. Still, stopping Clemson’s offense comes down to one goal: contain Deshaun Watson. Let’s take a look at a few different qualities that make him one of the best quarterbacks in America.

Running ability

The first attribute that separates Watson from a lot of other great quarterbacks is his ability to run. He’s dangerous as a scrambler, but Clemson has really relied on his ability to pick up yards on designed runs during big games. Watson only ran the ball more than 13 times during three games this season and they came against Louisville, Florida State and Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship.

Much like J.T. Barrett, Watson does an excellent job at letting his blocks develop before taking off on designed runs:

Watson stares down his three receivers in the pocket which freezes the linebackers. This hesitation is enough to allow his running back and center to get up to the second-level and secure blocks. Watson then displays his elusiveness and tackle-breaking ability, before ultimately hitting the gas and exploding through the secondary. He nearly loses the ball at the end of the run, but the damage has been done.

Deep-ball ability

Clemson loves to take shots down the field, especially to their stud wide receiver Mike Williams. Watson has the arm to make any throw on the field (his highlights versus Alabama demonstrate this again and again), but if he spots his No. 1 wide receiver in man-coverage, there’s a good chance that’s where the ball is going.

Against Georgia Tech, Watson releases a deep ball for Williams the second he sees the safety jump the underneath curl:

Watson has all day to throw, but he still does a good job at giving Williams a chance to go up and get the ball. He’ll also take deep shots to Jordan Leggett and Deon Cain, who both average over 16 yards per catch. Watson will get into trouble when he locks onto a receiver and forces a throw into double coverage, but his willingness to give his receivers chances downfield is troubling for the Buckeyes considering the talent of Williams.

Ohio State watched Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant consistently sky over their corners during the 2014 Orange Bowl and this is a strategy that Clemson will hope to replicate again. The Buckeyes’ secondary has come a long way since then, but there’s still a good chance that Clemson will look to test the Buckeyes deep considering how often Ohio State doesn’t give their corners help over the top.

Playmaking ability

As previously mentioned, Watson is essentially unstoppable when everything is clicking. He has the arm to make any throw on the field and his running ability is good enough to buy him extra time. The finished product is a scary sight:

This is the element of his game that is especially scary for the Buckeyes. Ohio State plays a lot of man coverage because their corners are so good, but this play selection is also dependent on their defensive line creating consistent pressure. If Watson is able to continuously break the pocket and buy extra time, it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the back-end of the defense to stay with the talented Clemson receivers.