ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech knows all about Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. He graduated from Gainesville and attended a football camp hosted by the Yellow Jackets. And he’s another one of those big, mobile quarterbacks who seems to be especially troublesome to the Yellow Jackets’ defense.
A year ago, Watson (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter against Georgia Tech. The Tigers were leading 3-0 and had driven the ball to the 14 when Watson was hurt on a quarterback keeper. Replacement Cole Stoudt threw an interception that Georgia Tech’s Jamal Golden returned for an 85-yard touchdown that changed the momentum of the game, which the Yellow Jackets won 28-6.
Watson suffered an ACL injury and then returned for the Tigers’ season finale against South Carolina before missing Clemson’s bowl game. He has bounced back strong to start this season. In the first four games, Watson has rushed for 186 yards and one touchdown and thrown for 725 yards nine touchdowns. He ran for 93 yards and threw for 84 yards last week in the Tigers’ win over Notre Dame.
“You’re not going to shut him down completely,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “You try to contain him. But they’ve got a lot more players than just Watson. They’re a very talented team.”
Last week, Georgia Tech was done in by North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams for the second straight year. Williams ran for 148 yards and threw for 134 yards.
“We’ve got to improve as a unit,” Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “There’s a fine line between winning and losing, a very thin margin of error ... one play, one better decision. We’re in it together as players and coaches. We’ve got to work our way out of it, coach our way out of it.”
Georgia Tech will be helped by the return of Pat Gamble, who has missed two games because of a concussion, and Adam Gotsis, who was ejected for a targeting penalty in the first quarter against North Carolina.
Roof said freshman Kyle Cerge-Henderson, who played for the first time last week, is in the rotation.
“He’s playing,” Roof said. “Last week, he got his feet wet, and he’s going to get them soaking wet this week. I expect him to grow and get better, too. We need all hands on deck.”
CLEMSON’S GEORGIA CONNECTION
Grayson has had a pipeline to Clemson. There are three ex-Grayson players on the roster: running back Wayne Gallman, backup quarterback Nick Schuessler and cornerback Ryan Carter.
Gallman, a sophomore, is Clemson’s leading rusher with 408 yards, a 5.4-yard average and three touchdowns. He also has caught three passes. Schuessler, a junior, has played in two games and thrown for 102 yards. Carter, a junior, has played in four games and posted six tackles, recovered a fumble, had two pass breakups and two defended passes.
Grayson head coach Mickey Conn and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney were teammates at Alabama.
Other Georgians on the Clemson roster are running back Tyshon Dye from Elbert County, place-kicker Ammon Lakip from Chattahoochee, linebacker Korie Rogers from Buford, guard Maverick Morris from Coffee, tight end Milan Richard from Calvary Day, wide receiver Shadell Bell from Columbia, offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt from North Gwinnett, offensive lineman Zach Giella from Augusta Christian and defensive lineman Austin Bryant from Thomas County Central.
MARSHALL WILL GET THE BALL
After gaining 184 yards in the season opener, B-back Marcus Marshall has been the invisible man. He didn’t even touch the ball last week against North Carolina. During the past four games the freshman has totaled 12 carries for 51 yards.
“He’s going to play. He and Marcus Allen are both going to play. We’ve got to get more production there,” Johnson said.
Allen has one carry for 6 yards last week and this season has eight carries for 62 yards.
If Clemson wins this week, it will tie the program record for consecutive wins at Clemson Memorial Stadium. The Tigers have won 12 straight, one short of the record that was set from 2011 to the middle of 2013. The home team has won the past six regular-season games in the series. ... Twelve of the past 20 games in the series have been decided by five or fewer points.