Walker: Tigers just need to focus on winning a game


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Landon Walker said he feels like the team hasn't done a good job at focusing on one team at a time.
Landon Walker said he feels like the team hasn't done a good job at focusing on one team at a time.

CLEMSON – Clemson offensive lineman Landon Walker got on the bus in Chapel Hill last Saturday night, still stinging from a 21-16 loss at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels, and immediately started scrolling through his phone in an effort to figure out what it would take to get his team back to the ACC Championship Game.

The loss to North Carolina dropped Clemson to 0-2 in the ACC, and the two losses mean their fate now rests in the hands of others.

However, it was while he was trying to figure all of this out that he flashed back to last season’s 2-3 start, and how the leaders on last year’s squad – guys like Thomas Austin and Michael Palmer – helped navigate the team through the rough stretch and eventually to Tampa.

And it all became crystal clear – just win a game.

“Failure is something that not any of us like to swallow, and I don’t intend to swallow it often,” Walker said Monday in the WestZone. “I feel like the thing we need to focus on, especially this week, is not look at it from a conference standpoint, or winning the conference. We need to focus on winning a game.”

Walker was asked if he could put his finger on the problem that has plagued the Tigers, and especially the offense, over the last couple of weeks, and he said he wished he knew.

“We need to figure it out, whether it’s leadership, or whether it’s putting people in the right positions,” Walker said. “What we have to do, we need to figure it out quick. We’ve got Maryland this week. That’s where we need to put all of our energy into. Just focus on Maryland, and not worry about who we’re playing next week.”

The junior and North Carolina native said that last year’s senior leaders were able to help the team dismiss all of the outside distractions and focus on just one step at a time.

“Last year we were in the same situation as we are now,” he said. “Last year we weren’t thinking about winning the division and winning the conference. When we played Miami, the focus was on Miami. And that’s what we have to do now. This team has to grow up fast and figure that out.”

Walker said that lack of focus is evident by the on-the-field results.

“It’s obvious in the way we’ve played,” he said. “During the week, you see us practice and think this is one of the best teams in the conference. But we get in the game and you see us struggling against things we are doing great on in practice.

“From my standpoint, I feel like we haven’t done a good job at focusing on one team at a time. I’m not calling any individuals out, I just feel like, as a team, I feel like we need to be more focused on one opponent at a time. Its leadership we need to work on that this week. “

Walker said that last year’s team took it one practice at a time, and one play at a time, and this year’s squad needs to follow their example.

“As good as this conference is this year you’ve got to take it one game at a time. If not, you’re going to wind up 5-7 or something like that,” he said. “You’re not going to like the way you look at the end of the season.”

And what will one win accomplish?

“I hate for it to come to 2-3 and for us to say, ‘We’ve got to get it together.’ Sometimes, that’s what it takes,” he said. “I think that this team has all the capabilities that last year’s team had. I feel like if we can start rolling, and win one game, we can get that feeling, and know what it feels like to win again.”

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