It is no secret Clemson struggled in its double overtime loss at Notre Dame, its first regular season defeat since 2017. Plagued with mistakes and injuries, No. 4 Clemson looked far from its dominant self on defense and struggled to hold the Fighting Irish at bay throughout the night in South Bend.
While many teams would consider this a step back, Jordan Williams and his teammates take it as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and get back to work in preparation for their journey to earn a spot in the ACC Championship Game next month.
“Losing’s definitely a tough thing to do, no matter what your record is, how long it’s been since you lost,” he said. “Losing is definitely a tough thing to do when you’re on a team full of competitors and winners and I feel like it’s something that is a part of the game. You can’t just hold onto it for too long and you gotta move forward eventually. Life’s gonna go on and we’re gonna have another game.
“Saturday’s gonna come and we’re going to be playing a new opponent, so it’s something that definitely hurt in the moment, but we’ve gotta move past it and go back to work.”
A loss isn’t the only thing Clemson left South Bend with. A number of key starters on both offense and defense were on the sidelines rather than on the playing field with a multitude of injuries. For Williams, having lots of his teammates out with injuries is tough, but it allows the “next-man up” mentality to come to life.
“Injuries happen, but with us, we’re just in a unique situation where a lot of our injuries happen in a span of time where it’s something that we just have to deal with,” the defensive tackle said. “We definitely can’t make any excuses about it and that’s why, as a defense and as a team, in general, we try and create that depth to where the next man up can be able to come in and there shouldn’t be any drop off.”
While the Tigers (7-1, 6-1 ACC) did fall short in the end at Notre Dame, guys like Williams stepped up when their numbers were called, filling the shoes of key starters like Tyler Davis, Bryan Bresee, and James Skalski. For Williams, it’s not about the mistakes themselves, but rather how they respond to those mistakes that will make them successful next week.
“We are a very young team, but these guys are the same guys that are in the meetings as the veteran guys,” Williams said. “They’re the guys that take the same reps that the veteran guys take. It’s to the point where we have to be ready to play when your number is called. You should be able to go out there and execute and know what you have to do.
“Mistakes are a part of the game, but it’s how you respond from these mistakes. As a young team, it’s something that we’re going to have to deal with, work with, grow and learn from.”