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‘We have to turn the page every week’: Henry talks South Carolina loss and ACC Championship

Matt Mynes // Photo Editor

Clemson defensive end K.J. Henry celebrates during the Tigers’ game against Miami in Memorial Stadium on Nov. 19, 2022.

Clemson defensive end K.J. Henry has endured many highs and lows during his time with the Tigers. 

From winning a national championship his freshman season in 2018 to the program’s first three-loss season in seven years, the fifth-year senior has been through it all.

However, prior to 2022, one thing hadn’t changed since Henry joined the team — beating South Carolina. That was until this past Saturday, when the Tigers fell to their rivals in a heartbreaking 31-30 loss, ending Clemson’s seven-year win streak over the Gamecocks.

When talking to the media on Monday, Henry acknowledged that both sides of the ball for the Tigers understand that they need to perform at a higher level and that the loss to South Carolina was a result of each side’s mistakes.

“We all have to be better,” he said. “There’s nobody that played a perfect game. (There) was good accountability, from a team perspective, to see what everyone’s role is and how it fits into our success.”

Clemson will need to quickly shift its focus to this Saturday’s matchup with North Carolina for the ACC championship.

Looking ahead to North Carolina, Henry addressed the challenge Tar Heel quarterback Drake Maye will pose for Clemson.

“What a talented player,” Henry said of Maye. “He can put the ball anywhere. Really good with his feet too.”

Leading North Carolina in rushing and the ACC in passing, Maye is one of the nation’s most versatile signal-callers.

“You got to give him different looks,” Henry continued. “Just trying to attack, from a defensive front standpoint; you got to compete. Obviously, he’s been in the Heisman talks and breaking all these records, and he’s earned that, but that doesn’t mean we bow down just because he’s a great player. You got to go out there and really give him fits and compete.”

Despite having to move on from a devastating loss and prepare for the next game will be difficult, Henry believes in the team’s ability to bounce back and be ready for Saturday.

“We have to turn the page every week, regardless of the result,” Henry said. “We’re literally just doing what we always do; it’s just the result isn’t what we wanted… As much as we hate (last week’s game) and want to sulk about it and be upset about it, the only thing that is going to do is make it worse for what we are trying to do this week. If we really want the outcome to be us holding up the trophy this Saturday, then we really have to shift our mindset and start committing toward that goal.” 

Henry and the Tigers can salvage their season and end on a positive note, and that all starts with Saturday’s ACC Championship game against North Carolina.

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