With impending rain in the forecast for Saturday’s game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Texans will be prepared for wet conditions when they face the New York Jets.
When asked this week if he had ever played in any rainy games at Clemson, Deshaun Watson responded nonchalantly.
“I did. A couple of them.”
Rainy might be an understatement for the conditions that four Texans players actually experienced together, but from opposing sidelines, on Oct. 3, 2015. During their collegiate career at Notre Dame, Nick Martin and Will Fuller V faced future Texans teammates Watson and Carlos Watkins at Clemson.
“It was definitely a monsoon, like it was more than rain, coming down like crazy,” center Nick Martin said. “First time, I played at Clemson – that was an awesome experience.”
It was an epic Notre Dame-Clemson battle that went down to the final seconds in a torrential downpour. Heading into the matchup, they were too focused on the game to worry about the weather forecast.
“I blocked out everything, I was so focused on the game,” Watkins said. “I knew what the conditions were going to be. I didn’t think they were going to be that bad until I got there and really had to change cleats right in that first series. It was crazy.”
Hurricane Joaquin threatened to bring catastrophic rainfall and flooding to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast that week. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency for South Carolina just two days earlier. Not even a hurricane could deter the fans that filled Clemson’s Memorial Stadium in a sea of orange and purple rain ponchos on game day.
The rain did not put a damper on Watson either, who threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third to lead the 12th-ranked Clemson Tigers to a 24-22 victory over No. 6 Notre Dame. Martin, after making offensive adjustments on the sideline, often tried to watch Watson when Clemson’s offense was on the field.
“He’s a playmaker, just like he is now,” Martin said. “He always has been, always is. His poise in a game like that with all the elements the way they were, that’s just what he does. He’s very poised, really in any situation.”
Watson rushed for 93 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to give Clemons 21-3 lead. Deshone Kizer led the Fighting Irish’s 19-point comeback in the fourth quarter. With seven seconds remaining, Kizer attempted a two-point conversion that would have sent the game into overtime, but failed. Watkins came up with the stop to secure a 24-22 win for the Tigers.
“Crazy thing is I took a bad step when the play started so I was in a bad spot,” Watkins said. “Luckily, I’m holding on to two people and finally get into a good spot and the QB powers, so he’s going to the outside and tried to stuff it in. Then (LB) Ben (Boulware) comes out of nowhere, hits the o-line, and then gave me enough time to make the play. Everybody else then came to help so a big play. A big play.”
Watkins ranks the win one of his favorite memories of playing at Clemson, after the 2017 national championship, of course.
The game ranks a bit lower on Martin’s list.
“We definitely should have won.”
The (9-4) Texans will next travel to MetLife Stadium to face the (4-9) Jets on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. CT on NFL Network and SportsRadio 610.