CLEMSON—The Clemson Tigers have “flushed,” “put aside” and “moved on” from their first loss of the season at Syracuse nearly two weeks ago.
Now it is time to show the college football world that the Tigers have learned from the loss and are moving forward.
"Losing is never fun, but at the end of the day, it's a part of the game,” running back Adam Choice said. “You can't win 'em all, well you can but it's rare that it happens. You have to learn to accept the losses and move and learn from them. So, that's what we're trying to do - -we're trying to learn and grow from it and just move on forward.
"Coach Swinney always preaches a windshield mentality, what's in the past is in the past and you can't do anything about it. So we have to just move onto the next one and go out and get that win."
That “windshield mentality” is one of the reasons the Tigers have been so successful over the last six seasons, winning 37 of their last 40 games.
For Choice, the mission is to not only keep that next-game mantra on the forefront of their collective minds, it is to also make sure they have learned from the mistakes that proved so costly at Syracuse.
"I feel like we challenged ourselves in many different ways,” Choice said. “Coach Swinney really pushed us to make sure that we don't make sure that we don't make the same mistakes that we made in the game again. Just learning from the mistakes and getting ready to go out and play a complete game against Georgia Tech."
Even though the junior running back has seen his playing time diminish as the season has progressed, giving way to sophomore Tavien Feaster and upstart true freshman Travis Etienne, his influence in the running back meeting room has never been greater.
“I’ve been extremely proud with how Adam Choice is embracing his leadership,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “He basically addressed the group and took responsibility of Travis’ mistake (missed assignment that led to a sack) and any time you’ve got older guys that respect the younger guys and then also take ownership of anything that those guys do.”
The reason for the ownership for Choice is simple: He understands how important every play is, especially protecting the quarterback.
The Tigers have given up 18 sacks this season (108th in the nation). However, the offensive line is responsible for only 4.5 of the 18 total sacks — with the other 13.5 being the fault of the wide receivers, the running backs or even the quarterback.
With quarterback Kelly Bryant coming off a concussion and still nursing an ankle injury, one would think the Tigers would be placing a greater emphasis on protecting their star this week. However, that is not the case just this week — it’s a big deal every week.
“It’s an emphasis every week,” Choice said. “It’s one of our keys to success — not letting our quarterback get hit. Because we know if we can keep up and he can make a play, then the chances of us being successful on that play are very high.
“So, we just go about it every week that we need to execute our assignments — it’s not bigger one week than another.”