Until Wednesday, there hadn't been as many Clemson players on the field at Bank of America Stadium since the 2015 ACC Championship game. Carolina pretty much controlled the game, leading in each quarter of a 27-17 win.
That included doing something the pedestrian Savage can't do: Decisively taking off and running for paydirt on a 15-yard score late in the third quarter. James Bradberry and Daryl Worley are much sharper heading into year two and they look like two quality starters. The Panthers' Derek Anderson isn't exactly the Cadillac of quarterbacks, but he's got more in-game experience than Savage or Watson, and that should serve him well here. Long-distance accuracy was a problem for Gano last season when he missed three of his six attempts from 50 yards or longer.
Remember, after undergoing surgery to fix a partially torn rotator cuff in his right throwing shoulder in March, Newton missed all spring practices.
Which only shows how significant a drop-off it was when No. 3 quarterback Joe Webb took the field.
While showing composure as a pocket passer, Watson also frequently extended plays and provided a new dynamic for the Texans' offense.
Deshaun Watson shined in his National Football League preseason debut, completing 15 of 25 passes for 179 yards and running for a score in the Houston Texans' 27-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday night.
The Chiefs will be getting a good look at their rookie signal-caller Patrick Mahomes, who was selected 10th overall in the draft. "I think a couple more days out here and I'll be back and be 100%". But looking the part in practice is one thing and being a poised, successful gamer - even in a game that doesn't count - is another.
On short and intermediate throws I was impressed with Watson's ball placement and his reads.
Watson finished 15 of 25 for 179 yards and added another 24 on the ground, including a 15-yard touchdown run, his first time finding the end zone as a professional. "That's what I want to accomplish on Wednesday and then protect the ball", Savage said.
It was in the third quarter where Watson had his best performance of the game. The Texans took Watson as they had a need at quarterback after dealing last year's starter, free-agent bust Brock Osweiler, to Cleveland. With Curtis Samuel still sidelined with a hamstring injury, Byrd is now the team's best (only?) true deep threat.
"I always knew that I've been a player and been able to play", Byrd said.
Coming out from under center Watson's footwork still needs refinement, which is expected coming out of Clemson.
Those intangibles are hard to come by with young players like Watson.