CFB Big Throw: Watson to Cain

DeShaun Watson is not draft eligible for another season, but the Clemson quarterback continues to impress fans and scouts alike with his stellar performances. Mark Schofield looks at how Watson to Cain won the game for the Tigers.

Clemson remains atop the ACC Coastal standings for another week following their convincing 56-41 victory over North Carolina State. The Tigers rode an impressive performance from quarterback Deshaun Watson to victory, with the sophomore completing 23 of 30 passes for 383 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions. The Wolfpack cut the Tigers’ lead to seven midway through the third quarter, but Clemson responded with a six-play scoring drive, culminating with this gem of a throw.

Watson and the offense face 2nd and 3 on the N.C. State 40-yard line with the quarterback in the shotgun and 11 personnel in the game. Clemson deploys a slot formation right, with the tight end in a wing alignment, and a stack slot on the left, with Artavis Scott (#3) off the line of scrimmage. The Wolfpack send out a five defensive backs who show man coverage:CFBReview9ClemsonStill1

Before the snap, Scott comes in jet motion toward Watson, and the second level defenders slide in response, including a safety who steps forward into the box:CFBReview9ClemsonStill2

However, Scott’s motion is a decoy. After faking to the slot receiver, Watson looks deep to the outside, where Deon Cain is running a go route:CFBReview9ClemsonStill3

Off the snap, Cain gets a free release off the line as cornerback Jack Tocho uses catch-man technique. When the receiver bends to the outside to accelerate, the CB chooses not to jam, instead trying to turn and run with him. While he has decent positioning, even perfect coverage would be unable to prevent a completion, given the throw from Watson:

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This throw is perfection. Watson shows great technique here, from his drop, to his movement in the pocket, to the arm talent on display. The pass itself has great velocity, rotation, and spin, as it drops right into the outside shoulder of Cain ‒ and just out of Tocho’s reach. Adding injury to insult, as the CB tries to tackle the receiver he catches one of Cain’s heels to the jaw, leaving him stunned and in pain on the turf while Clemson begins to celebrate.

Here’s another angle of the route and catch:

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The long scoring play extended Clemson’s lead to fourteen points, and they would cruise to victory. With the win, the Tigers remain one game ahead of Florida State in their division … and guess who comes to Death Valley next Saturday?

Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

Mark Schofield has always loved football. He breaks down film, scouts prospects, and explains the passing game for Inside the Pylon.

All video and images courtesy ESPN.

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