Josh Watson can hear footsteps, and that's good news for Clemson's defense

'We love each other, we root for each other, but we also know when we come to practice it's competition'

Josh Watson and the Clemson cheerleaders celebrate a Happy New Year with a 25-24 win over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl game

Photo by Mark Crammer

Josh Watson and the Clemson cheerleaders celebrate a Happy New Year with a 25-24 win over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl game

Josh Watson can hear footsteps, and it's music to his ears.

Let down for a day, and Clemson's defensive tackle rotation can turn upside down. Younger players are pushing veterans. Everybody wins.

"It's experience, it's competitive depth, and it's reliable depth," said Watson, when asked about the improvement on Clemson's defensive front. "We've got guys like D.J. (Reader) and Carlos (Watkins) coming up behind us. If you don't play your heart out every day, they're going to take your spot.

"That's how you get better. That's how we got better during the season, by competing. We love each other, we root for each other, but we also know when we come to practice it's competition. We have to earn our spots every day."

Watson said the Tigers' first major scrimmage on Wednesday was a win-win affair for players on both sides of the ball.

"We just competed," he said. "We know how our offense always comes out for scrimmages - hard and fast, as fast as they can go. You just have to weather the storm at first - we knew that from prior experience.

"They made a couple of plays on us to begin with, but then we bowed up when it counted and got off the field. That was basically the story of the whole day. They made some plays, we made some plays. So overall, I think it was a good scrimmage for both sides."

Asked who made the strongest impression during the Tigers' initial stadium session, Watson pointed out rising sophomore linebacker Kellen Jones, who sat out last season after playing for defensive coordinator Brent Venables at Oklahoma as a freshman.

"Kellen Jones caught my eye a couple of times," Watson said. "The guy's just a machine. He's all over the place. He's going to be a great player for us."

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