With Deshaun Watson sidelined this spring, it became imperative for Clemson to find a backup quarterback.
Nick Schuessler made the most of that opportunity. The former walk-on capped a solid spring with a good performance in the spring game this past Saturday, going 9-of-13 for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, when the top teams played. The Greenville News noted that Schuessler found Mike Williams for a 50-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage and never looked back.
Coach Dabo Swinney was pleased afterward, telling reporters, “He’s definitely the backup. Solid spring. He’s been very consistent, and he has to prepare himself to be the starter because if he’s not, he’s cheating our team."
Indeed, the backup quarterback at Clemson is of paramount importance considering Watson's situation. He missed time last season with finger and knee injuries and continues to rehab his torn ACL. While Swinney says Watson remains ahead of schedule and will be back in the fall, the seriousness of the injury and the rehab required cannot be overlooked. Especially if you remember how badly Clemson struggled offensively with backup quarterback Cole Stoudt.
Interestingly, Schuessler was the overlooked guy coming into spring practice, with freshman early enrollees Kelly Bryant and Tucker Israel grabbing all the headlines because of their prep careers. But Schuessler showed his knowledge of the offense from the get-go and impressed coaches from the start of spring. Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Elliott called him the offensive MVP of spring camp.
Schuessler was only a small part of the offensive show the Tigers put on in front of a record spring crowd of 37,000. Williams finished with five catches for 107 yards and two scores, C.J. Davidson rushed for 100 yards and two scores and Wayne Gallman rushed for 71 yards and another score.