What happened last Saturday against Pittsburgh has not happened too often in Deshaun Watson’s career. For only the third time in the 30 games he started for Clemson, Watson and his teammates left the football field with a loss.
It was the first time he experienced a loss in Death Valley, and just the second in a game in which he started and finished at quarterback. The other … last year’s College Football Playoff Championship Game against Alabama.
“It is a good learning lesson. I have not had too many losses, especially in college. It is kind of new around here, but you live and you learn,” Watson said. “You are going to take losses at some point in your life. No one is perfect. There is no one that is playing football right now that is completely undefeated no matter if you are a player or a coach.
“It’s a good time to learn and grow from it.”
So what has No. 5 Clemson learned about its first regular season loss in 24 games and its first at home in three years.
“I feel like that game was good for us. It was a reality check. It shows we are beatable,” Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett said. “Having that loss motivates us. That locker room was terrible.”
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said the team was confused and did not know what to do after the game because it was something they, as a group, have not experienced at Clemson.
“Everybody on this team hates to lose. We didn’t really know what to do (Saturday) night. I’m glad that it isn’t a habit around here and it’s not going to become one,” Swinney said.
Watson said the goal at Clemson each week is to strive to be perfect. Granted, they know they always can’t be, and days like the Pitt game are going to come every once in a while. But if they strive to be the best they can be every day, then he says good things will happen most of the time and that’s really all they can ask for.
“It’s hard to be perfect. That’s something we try to strive for, but there is no one on this earth, that is a human being, that is perfect. I just have to understand that. I can try and come close to it, but I understand that I’m going to make mistakes. I’m human, but everyone else is the same way,” Watson said.
Swinney says Watson has responded to the Pitt loss just as he would have expected him to, “like a champion would respond.”
“Nobody needs to tell DW anything. He is very aware of when he makes a mistake and when he plays well,” Swinney said. “(The Pitt game) was just very unfortunate because again that was just amazing what he did. He threw for 580 yards passing with a 75 percent completion percentage … that is unbelievable.
“It really is and how he managed the game. He was coming off a bruise (shoulder) there that he worked through all week. I was just really proud of him.”
At the end of the day, Swinney was proud of the way his quarterback faced the music, too and answered the questions after a tough loss and owned up to his mistakes … the three interceptions, including two in the red zone.
“At the end of the day, if you are a quarterback, your mistakes are very glaring. He understands that because he knew that we had an opportunity to put the game away, but we had the opportunity to put the game away in several areas,” Swinney said. “He’s fine, but he was disappointed because he hates to lose. I’m glad he hates to lose.”