After Clemson’s loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday, tight end Jordan Leggett didn’t care to watch any of the other games across college football.
Though at the end of the night, following third-ranked Michigan’s loss to Iowa and fourth-ranked Washington’s loss to Southern Cal, Leggett couldn’t help but hear about the college football chaos on social media.
He also heard from some of his teammates, too, who were texting each other about the night’s events that essentially gave the Tigers a mulligan for their loss in terms of the College Football Playoff picture.
“Some teammates on this team were just texting each other like don’t worry boys, we still got this no matter what,” Leggett said.
Despite the loss, thanks to some help from other top contenders, Clemson still controls its destiny. If Clemson wins its remaining regular season games and the ACC Championship game, then it will be in the playoff.
Because all of Clemson’s goals are still attainable, Leggett is able to see a silver lining in Clemson’s loss as the team heads into its next game at Wake Forest on Saturday.
“I feel like that game was kind of good for us,” Leggett said on Monday. “It’s almost a reality check that we are beatable and every team is going to take their best shot at us.”
Leggett feels the loss alleviates some of the pressure on Clemson created by outside expectations for the team to go undefeated again.
He also feels the loss put a chip on the collective shoulder of the team and provided additional motivation.
“Last year, going undefeated the whole year just added that much more pressure with people expecting you to win every game,” Leggett said. “Now, we’re not invincible. It’s kind of what it proved Saturday.
“And having that loss under our belt motivates us. That feeling in the locker room was terrible on Saturday, so nobody wants to feel that again, and I feel like having that loss will just motivate us and put that chip on our shoulder going into the rest of the year.”
Leggett — who was recently named a semifinalist for the Mackey Award, presented annually to the nation’s top tight end — had another good game on Saturday.
The senior from Navarre, Fla., notched six receptions for 95 yards to bring his season total to 28 receptions for 480 yards. His 95 receiving yards increased his career total to 1,342, setting the Clemson record for receiving yards by a tight end.
Leggett has had arguably the two biggest catches in Clemson’s two biggest games this year.
In the Tigers’ 42-36 win over Louisville, he caught the game-winning 31-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson with just 3:14 remaining. Then, at Florida State, his 34-yard scoring pass from Watson with 2:06 left proved to be the game winner in a 37-34 victory.
Unfortunately for Leggett, though, he and the Tigers were on the wrong end of a game-changing play against Pitt.
On second-and-goal from Pittsburgh’s 3-yard line with Clemson up by eight points and in position to take control of the game, Leggett admittedly ran an imprecise route that contributed to Watson’s interception, which was returned 70 yards and set up Pittsburgh’s 20-yard touchdown run four plays later.
The pick and ensuing score breathed new life into Pitt, which proceeded to force a turnover on downs on Clemson’s next possession before kicking a game-winning 48-yard field goal with six seconds left.
“The last turnover was on me,” Leggett said. “It was a little play-action out the back door, and I just got too deep on my route, and the linebacker was able to undercut me.”
So, probably no one is happier than Leggett that Clemson still has a chance to accomplish what it set out to at the beginning of the season.
And Leggett doesn’t have to look far back to find a one-loss national champion.
“Like I said, having that loss, we can focus in on us now,” Leggett said. “We won’t have to worry about people pushing us and pressuring us to have a perfect season. Last year Alabama won at 14-1, so there’s no reason we can’t do it.”