Tigers know how to respond when they don’t play their best
One thing that has separated Clemson from other programs is the Tigers’ ability to learn from past mistakes. Whether it is from a loss or finding a way to win a close game that outside parties think they should have won by four touchdowns, they look at what they did wrong, learn from it and get ready for the next game.
Head coach Dabo Swinney always says they have to have “a windshield mentality,” focused on what is in front of them and not what they have passed. That’s why the Tigers have been as good as any team in the country when it comes to bouncing back from a tough game or maybe a game they did not play as well as they should have.
That was the case last Saturday when they nearly fell at North Carolina, a game in which they were favored by nearly four touchdowns coming in.
“I think it is the same every week. Yes, we had a close game, but what can we learn from that? We take what we learn from each game and we just move on and mature from there and learn from that,” right guard Gage Cervenka said. “That is kind of what a veteran team does. They take what happened in that last week and learn from that. Sometimes it is hard for teams to learn from the mistakes they have made and that is something we strive on to be elite … learn from our mistakes and grow as a program.”
The second-ranked Tigers (5-0, 3-0 ACC) had plenty of mistakes in their one-point win over the Tar Heels. But at the same time, they dug in and found a way to win the game when it mattered the most.
With the game tied in the fourth quarter, Trevor Lawrence led a 55-yard scoring drive which he capped off with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins. The defense, though it gave up a touchdown with 1:17 to play, stopped UNC quarterback Sam Howell on a 2-point conversion to seal the 21-20 victory.
“It kind of shows we have a fight in us,” Cervenka said. “No matter what the situations is we are going to keep fighting and we are going to keep playing.
“The whole time in the huddle, I was just telling guys that this play right here, we are bound to break one. We are about to score here. Just keeping that mindset of don’t get down and keep playing.”
As one of the most veteran groups on the team, Cervenka says the offensive line is doing their best to lead the team and to be as vocal as they can.
“I thought it was huge that we just kept playing and we did not get down on ourselves when we had those bad situations and those false starts and just kept hurting ourselves,” he said. “We had good drives. We just could not finish at the end. But I think it was big that we did not get down on ourselves and we kept fighting.
“That is something big we did from last year. We did not have the best couple of games, but we learned and progressed as the season went on. That is just something we want to focus on.”
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