Showdown in Death Valley

PHOTO: NC State's Jacoby Brissett looks to evade Florida State's P.J. Williams
Credit: NC State Athletics

Steve Phillips, Special to

Clemson’s Death Valley will serve as a showcase of the current ACC Co-Offensive Players of the Week on Saturday afternoon, as NC State junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett leads the Wolfpack against the Tigers and freshman counterpart Deshaun Watson.

Brissett, who leads the ACC in touchdown passes with 13 and has not thrown an interception in his last 156 attempts, helped the Wolfpack throw a scare into top-ranked Florida State last Saturday, when he threw for 359 yards and three TDs.

The second of Brissett’s touchdown throws, on which he eluded what appeared to be two certain sacks before threading a perfectly-placed 8-yard pass to Jonathan Alston, all but defied description.“That was a tremendous play,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said.

 “He's big, he's strong, and not only to break the tackle but then to keep the poise and keep his eyes downfield and make plays, that's a very special gift.  He's a very, very good football player. “

One week after playing with unflappable poise in Clemson’s tough overtime loss to FSU, Watson made his first collegiate start against North Carolina. Stage fright? Not if his ACC record-tying and school-record tying six touchdown passes were any indication.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney didn’t promise that same level of success this week – or any other – but he believes Watson’s mindset will allow him to take whatever comes next in stride.

“You will have some guys that can have great success early, and it is probably a distraction because they are probably not very mature and you can see it coming,” Swinney said. “But then you have other guys like Deshaun who are very wise and mature beyond their years.

"We will keep coaching him up. He is a freshman, and he needs to continue to grow, prepare and focus on what he needs to focus on.”