Heading into the 2016 college football season, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is one of the most dangerous players in the nation. He’s a dual-threat quarterback (he can beat you with his arm and his legs), but don’t think for a second that means he is looking to run the ball as his first option.
Speaking with Matt Hayes of Bleacher Report, Watson discussed a number of things, including the “dual-threat quarterback” term that he views as a “code word” that means black quarterback.
Watson was asked about an exchange he had with a reporter before the national championship game against Alabama. In that instance, the reporter brought up the fact that some NFL scouts question Watson’s ability to throw and believed he is more of a runner.
“People say, well he’s a dual-threat quarterback. You look at that word…that’s a code word,” Watson said.
He was then asked by Hayes why, after so many African-American quarterbacks have had success throwing the ball, we are still dealing with “those black-quarterback stereotypes.”
“I have no idea, but it’s there. People think, ‘Oh, he’s a black quarterback, he must be dual-threat.‘ People throw around that word all the time. It’s lazy. The one thing I learned early on as a football player is people have their opinions, and I can’t change them. But I can show them what they’re missing.
“People have assumed that I have to run the ball before I can throw it most all of my career, all the way back before high school. It’s a stereotype put on me for a long time because I’m African-American and I’m a dual-threat quarterback. I don’t know why that stereotype is still around. It’s about talent and the ability to throw the ball, not the color of your skin or your ability to also be a dangerous runner.”
Watson also said he used to be bothered about this when he was younger. But nowadays he’s more interested in making his “mark on the field” to show people the error of their ways.
That Watson can run is not a question that needs to be answered. He rushed for 1,105 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.
But he also showed the ability to be a prolific passer. He ranked ninth in the nation in total passing yards (4,104) and eighth in passing touchdowns (35). Those are big-time numbers, and they came in his first full year as a starter.
The Clemson quarterback should be even more potent in the passing game in 2016. He and the Tigers weren’t particularly effective in the red zone last year, ranking No. 70 in the nation converting just 60 percent of their red-zone appearances into touchdowns.
In response to those dismal numbers, Watson and the offense worked hard this offseason on red-zone execution.
That work should translate to more touchdowns, many of which will likely come through the air courtesy of Watson’s arm.
The junior quarterback has a lot on his shoulders this season.
After falling just short of beating the Crimson Tide in the national championship game last year, the Tigers enter the upcoming campaign as one of the teams on everybody’s short list to win this year’s title game. On top of that, Watson has been pegged as the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman.