It has already been an interesting first couple of days as No. 3 Clemson gets set to host SC State this Saturday in Death Valley.
Since nearly being upset by the men from Troy, Alabama last week, the Tigers entered Week 3 wondering what’s wrong with the offense and how they can get things jumped started again.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson took the blame on Monday and apologized to the media and the fans for his negative attitude, believing that has carried over to his and his team’s performance from on offensive standpoint.
Watson even met with senior center Jay Guillermo and senior linebacker Ben Boulware to express his concerns before practice on Monday.
“It was a good conversation just to see where everyone was coming from and us being the three big leaders of the team, and just hearing what our thoughts were from Saturday and what we could do better from a leadership standpoint,” Guillermo said.
So what can the Tigers (2-0) do better? How can they get the ship turned around before next Thursday’s encounter with Georgia Tech down in Atlanta?
“It was really good because whenever you go out there on the field, someone might have a bad play or something like that. You want to get them going. You want to go to them and say, ‘Hey man! You have to step your game up.’ But at the same time, a lot of that is the coach’s job and you know the coach is already in his ear. The coach is already letting him have it. It is not going to do a whole lot for me to come over and do the same thing so a lot of it is just us finding out what we really have to do better as leaders.
“We had a really good conversation and sat there for about five or ten minutes and talked about our thoughts. I think we are all on the same page and we are ready to go.”
After the “come to Jesus meeting” as Guillermo stated it, the All-ACC center says the focus of the team already seems to be better.
“You did not hear as many coaches fussing or having to fuss (in practice on Monday). I felt like the guys took a little bit more pride in what they were doing,” he said. “On Mondays it’s called our Mental Mondays. We don’t have pads on, we are in helmets. I don’t think there were as many mistakes yesterday as they normally are on Mondays. That was really encouraging coming back from this weekend.”
The senior admits he and the team have seen all the negative comments the fans and the media have been saying about their performance and he understands why. However, he says they have to push those things aside and truly focus on what they can do to get better each and every play.
“It is hard to say, ‘Hey man! Go out there, be perfect and have fun. Don’t make a mistake, but have fun,’’ he said. “It hard, but in football you have to or it is going to be miserable. Yeah, it really is about finding that balance and working during practice and enjoying the grind of it.
“It is a long and grueling process, and to a lot of people is not very fun. Hard work is not a lot of fun to a lot of people. So it is fun in a way to make it enjoyable. Once again, that starts with me and me bringing guys along and me loosing up a little bit in practice like I had been in the past and making sure guys are not doom and gloom all the time in practice and during games.”
Guillermo understands the frustration, though. He said one of the things the Tigers are doing this year is each player has a vision board at his house that asks him to list his daily goals, his practice goals, game goals and his long term goals.
He says it frustrates him a little when he does not achieve one of his goals, and he thinks some of his teammates might be doing the same thing, especially with all the goals and expectations the offense had for itself coming into the season.
“I know if I do not have a great day in practice and did not achieve one of my goals, I’m very hard on myself. I am my own worst critic and so the goals we have set as an offense, and maybe us not achieving one or two of those, it really, and I know we can do it, but I think that is where some guys get frustrated and wonder why aren’t we doing it,” Guillermo said.
The coaching staff is trying to fix those issues by explaining what has been happening at each position when a negative play has occurred.
“Maybe the wide receivers did not know what was going on with the offensive line and why we missed a protection or whatever happened so showing them what happened, it really let everyone have an appreciation for each other so we kind of worked hard with each other to try and achieve our goals,” Guillermo said. “We are going to be alright. No one needs to panic. I know last year we kind of started off slow. We are going to be alright. We are more talented as an offense and we have more than enough high character guys not to continue to play like we have, so we will be alight.”