Clemson All-American Sammy Watkins raised a few eyebrows Wednesday when he said the Tigers would have beat rival USC if not for a sure touchdown he dropped in the first half of the 34-13 loss to the Gamecocks.
“Most definitely, I think we would have won that South Carolina game if I would have caught that ball in the endzone on that cheetah pass there. I think I would have caught it. If I would have caught it, it would have been a totally different game.”
AUDIO: Watkins on his drop vs. USC [:12]
Not like this rivalry needed any more fuel, right?
You can’t blame Watkins for thinking this. This is an extremely confident kid, and for good reason. You can make a strong case he’s the best returning wide receiver in college football. He’s a guy that is going to shatter a ton of records and Clemson and in all likelihood go down as the best wide receiver to run down The Hill. That’s a play Watkins makes 99 out of 100 times. It’s a play he probably makes if he was healthily. Remember, he sat out the week before against NC State because of a shoulder injury.
But none of that matters. That play would have shifted momentum, but not the course of the game. Clemson lost to USC not because of Sammy Watkins dropped pass, but because the Gamecocks were the better team.
Larry Williams, a beat writer for TigerIllustrated.com hit the preverbal nail on the head with his response via Twitter.
“No question the Watkins drop was a huge play in the game, but Clemson lost because it was manhandled up front. The last three years, SC has beaten Clemson the way Clemson beat SC the previous 30 years: By being tougher and more physical.”
If Watkins catches that pass do the Tiger offensive linemen suddenly figure out how to block Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney? Does the Tiger defensive line, for the first time all season, suddenly figure out how to slow down a mobile quarterback? Are you telling me the Tigers mailed it in after the dropped pass?
Sorry Sammy, Clemson was a lot more than one dropped pass away from winning that game.
You can hear the full Watkins interview below.
AUDIO: Sammy Watkins interview [6:06]