There’s a saying about bye weeks, no one has ever lost one.
That’s true but how each program handles the bye week is of greater importance than just an empty Saturday. These “breaks” give the coaches and team time to rest, heal and refocus, away from the noise. If they accomplish this, like that old saying, there’s no way to lose.
I’m not a football tactician, not an on the field play analyst, I’m just an observer. So my thoughts aren’t laced with thoughts on how to fix anything. The intent of this article is simple, I will attempt to make some sense of where this team has come and where it might be headed.
I believe in the power of five simple words, things concerning both life and sport. Confidence, Emotion, Motivation, Belief and Pride. I’ll attempt to put each in perspective regarding the 2021 edition of Clemson Football.
Confidence: Who knows where this comes from, where it resides in each of us? When it’s lost, we must look for ways it can be found. It’s no secret the Tigers look like a team that, absent the defense, lacks confidence.
The source of this lack, in my opinion, began last year. When a team loses players that meant everything to the success of the team, it’s difficult to lose their talent but even more difficult to overcome is the loss of the confidence they brought to the line of scrimmage.
When a group of veterans, talented and experienced players are in control, their confidence makes everyone around them better. Why? Confidence. This offense has talent, heart, passion but seriously lacks confidence. The good news is it’s not too late. Success breeds confidence. Keep winning and the confidence within these young players will rise.
Emotions: Like everything involving we humans, at the center is emotion. Emotions take us to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I believe success is finding that near perfect emotional balance. In balance, your mind is able to rationally and methodically function. This young offense is in desperate need of that balance. Thus far, their emotional psyche is tilting towards the low side of the scale.
The answer, stay focused and work within the system the coaches have laid forth. It seems at this point the Tigers have reached the point of no return, they can’t turn back, and just scrap everything. No, it won’t work, there’s no time for such a move. The smart move, in my opinion is to go for broke and keep going forward. From the team’s emotional health perspective, this seems like the course to follow.
Motivation: This is a tricky one. There are negative motivators and positive motivators. Touching a hot stove is a negative motivator. It teaches you through pain. You know you’re never to touch it again but you’re never going to look at a stove the same way ever. It accomplishes the task at hand but there’s a better way.
A positive motivator is as simple as a kind word, a pat on the back and even empathy, not pity. Empathy motivates by letting them know, you’ve been in this cave before and you know the way out. Basically, understanding. This is the job of many. Coaches, family, friends, teammates and even fans. If you positively motivate this young offense, have patience no matter the outcome and keep moving forward, it’s going to eventually bring the desired outcome.
Belief: This might be the hardest of the five to achieve. Belief and faith are interchangeable. Belief in yourself is a powerful thing. Lack of belief is devastating, especially in sports. Like confidence, we have to ask where does this come from? The answer, at least for me, is clearly a strong, ever faithful support system, a family. Not only just your immediate family but those with whom you surround yourself. Again, as fans we are, for better or worse, a part of this support system. If we believe, truly believe in this program and all of the wild success it’s delivered in the recent past, we must have faith in them now, not just their victories.
Pride: As I see it, the win this bye week is achieved not on the field but in the hearts and minds of all those associated with this team. It’s obvious, painfully obvious at times, the limits of this young offense. Think rationally for a moment, at this point, this team is no longer playing for a spot in the playoff. Maybe a shot at a seventh straight ACC Championship, but mostly they are playing for pride. They can more than make up for the lack of wins with an abundance of pride.
These players, these coaches and even the fans have a deep sense of pride in being associated with Clemson. The victory from this week is to find that pride, it’s there. It was born years ago in those hills and it’s been carried forward and has grown greater for decades. I know, without question, it’s going to continue.
So, be loud and proud the next time these young Tigers take the field for they’ve got a lot on their shoulders but they’ve also got pride, Clemson Pride. When you’ve got that, no numbers on a scoreboard defines who you are nor what you can do. Pride, is a powerful thing.
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