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Glass half full: Why the Championship loss was necessary for this year

Some people look at the glass as half empty, and some look at the glass as half full. No doubt, the loss in the National Championship had to be a tough pill to swallow, but honestly, Clemson did not deserve to win. The team who made the least amount of mistakes was the victor, and that is how it usually ends up. By looking at the glass as half full, anyone can see that the loss was the best thing to happen to Clemson since the Deshaun Watson signing in 2013. More lessons are learned through defeat than victory, and the lessons that were learned last year will fuel the Tigers to become better than they were last year. The loss in the National Championship was necessary for Clemson because a win would have pacified Clemson’s mistakes.
Last year, Clemson had trouble getting up for a few of their games, and they played sluggishly against teams that they were heavy favorites against making the games closer than they had to be. Clemson was favored by 17 points against South Carolina and only won by five points. Clemson was favored by 26 points against Syracuse but won the hard fought game by ten points. What kept the opposing team in the game were the turnovers; Clemson had three turnovers in both of those games. The Tigers learned last year that they would get everyone’s best game.
Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy once said, “I would rather lose playing my best, than win knowing we didn’t play our best” rather one agrees or not, Clemson didn’t play with intensity in some games. Good teams can get by without bringing their A game against subpar competition, but against good teams, you cannot afford to play sloppy or make crucial mistakes. Certainly, an undefeated record looks attainable, but Clemson will get every team’s best game.
Clemson learned another lesson that mistakes will you cost you no matter how good you are. Clemson scored 40 points and racked up a total of 550 yards, and it still wasn’t enough to beat Alabama. When Watson was asked if he could have one play back from the National Championship he said, “I would probably like to have back the interception I threw against Eddie Jackson on a roll out play when Ray Ray was going on a wheel flat and I threw it and and Eddie Jackson came across. That was the one that I wished I wouldn’t have thrown because we had the momentum and could have went up 21-7.” Certainly, that one play did not win or lose the game, but when there is an opportunity to put pressure on the opposition, it must be seized.
Clemson’s secondary would definitely love to have back the mistakes that their busted coverages resulted in big plays for Alabama’s tight end, O. J. Howard. He had touchdown catches of 53 and 51 yards, while also having a 63-yard catch-and-run late in the game to set up Derrick Henry’s game-clinching touchdown. Big plays like these are hard to overcome, especially when those big plays aren’t reciprocated from the other team. Alabama played a perfect game with no turnovers and did not have any busted coverages while Clemson worked for everything they earned that night.
The onside kick is something that is overrated. The 95-yard kickoff return by Kenyan Drake had a bigger impact. The kickoff return crushed the momentum the Tigers had after kicking a field goal to make it a four point game with 7 minutes and 31 seconds left on the clock. This took the air out of the stadium and made the Tiger’s hill to climb look like Mt. Everest. However, the onside kick and the kickoff return are two plays the special teams wish they could have back.
The special teams were ranked 125th nationally and allowed 117.6 return yards per game. This wouldn’t have mattered if Clemson won the national championship.
Anyone can look back in hindsight and wish to do things differently, but the Tigers have a chance to right their wrongs. Clemson has a lot of new faces on defense, but majority of those players were in the locker room after the loss to Alabama. They remember the agony of defeat while watching the confetti fall on the opposing team as they jump in each other arms. Clemson will have a chance to exorcise their past demons on September 3.
Beware Auburn.

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