Christian Wilkins sees the glass half full, rather than half empty, when he reflects on Clemson’s loss to Syracuse two weeks ago.
The junior defensive lineman knows it wasn’t a good night for Clemson at the Carrier Dome on Oct. 13. But instead of dwelling on the defeat, Wilkins and the Tigers are looking at the silver lining.
“As a team, we’re just looking at it as one bad night,” Wilkins said. “Everyone has a bad day at the office. You just look at it as a learning experience. We’re not looking at it as a failure, just an opportunity to get better now and learn from our mistakes.
“Even before the loss there were a lot of mistakes we made throughout games. We just got exposed on those mistakes in that game. So now, we’ve had more time off to correct those, and hopefully we will be better going forward.”
From a defensive perspective, Wilkins thinks the Tigers’ poor performance has forced them to re-focus ahead of this Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech in Death Valley.
Clemson’s defense came into the Syracuse game ranked fifth in the country in scoring defense (11.3 points per game) and eighth in total defense (264.3 yards per game) before allowing 27 points and 440 yards to the Orange.
“It’s obvious we had a bad performance, not up to our standard,” Wilkins said. “It puts us even more on edge if we weren’t already before, because we know if we don’t do our job, that’s the result we can get.”
Clemson’s defense faces another tough challenge this weekend, albeit a completely different one. Georgia Tech’s run-heavy, triple-option offense is a stark contrast to the up-tempo, spread attack the Tigers saw against Syracuse.
In order to shut down a Georgia Tech offense that enters the game averaging 34.7 points and 448.8 yards per contest, Clemson will have to be disciplined.
“Obviously there’s a lot of things going on, but guys have to buy in and be disciplined because there’s a lot of different pieces, and if you don’t do your one-eleventh, then it’s going to be a long night,” Wilkins said. “But if everyone does their one job and doesn’t get tired of it and does it each and every play, then you can get a good result.”
Clemson’s bye week came at a good time in the thick of the season, allowing the team to get healthy and rejuvenated ahead of the season’s stretch run.
But after a long layoff, Wilkins and the Tigers are ready to get back on the field and get back in the win column.
“It’s easy for a lot of people to judge us for a loss and everything like that,” Wilkins said. “But judge us by how we respond, and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing on Saturday.”