CLEMSON -- The last thing a number of prominent Clemson players wanted to do Monday was watch the Alabama game film, much less discuss it.
So imagine running back James Davis' thoughts when his English professor started the morning class by asking if anyone wanted to discuss how the opening weekend of college football season went.
"When you lose a game like this like we did, it's kind of embarrassing," Davis said.
Veteran starters did not need a thesaurus to find adjectives to describe Saturday's 34-10 season-opening shellacking by No. 24 Alabama.
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Senior receiver Tyler Grisham called it "depressing" and the bus ride home "miserable." Fellow senior receiver Aaron Kelly described the "hurt" and "frustration" that lingers in its wake.
"They're embarrassed, which they should be, and I am, too," coach Tommy Bowden said after Monday night's practice. "But if you've got a lot of pride, you would be embarrassed. As the week goes on, they'll recover.
"I don't think anybody went undefeated last year, and I (told the team) ... it's how you respond to a loss."
In theory, a four-game homestand, which begins with Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game against The Citadel, appears to offer some therapeutic value.
Two of those games are against ACC foes N.C. State and Maryland, both of whom were steamrolled by Clemson last season and showed little sign of improvement in their respective openers.
Yet the Tigers seem cognizant that running up their typically gaudy stats against such opponents will do nothing to repair the damage the Alabama defeat levied on their credibility as well as that of the ACC teams they might conquer.
On the one hand, Clemson could use the next few weeks to develop experience at its weakest positions, junior center Thomas Austin said.
On the other, the Tigers now have to accept that subsequent accomplishments during the regular season will be treated with a grain of salt nationally until the team proves it deserves otherwise.
And that might require not only winning the ACC title, but perhaps the league's first BCS victory in nine years.
"You want to get that bad taste out of your mouth, and we'd love to get another chance at an SEC opponent, but we'll have to wait until South Carolina on that one," Austin said.
Although The Citadel awaits as the next step forward, it would stand to reason that Clemson actually turn its immediate attention to rectifying the issues that became apparent against the Crimson Tide.
While fingers were pointed at the lack of execution by the offensive and defensive fronts against their more physical Alabama counterparts, there were signs the Tigers also out-foxed themselves by preparing for new wrinkles the Crimson Tide never used.
With momentum and an early lead in hand, Alabama shelved its usual array of blitzes and devoted more resources to pass coverage. Unable to run against a pass defense, "we played into their hands a little bit," Kelly said.
On defense, Hamlin said he was told by several defensive linemen that the Tigers had expected the Crimson Tide to rely mostly on zone-blocking in the running game.
Instead, the interior guys were routinely double-teamed on power plays, and to the degree Alabama skirted standard strategy and ran the same stuff to the weak side of the field, as well.
Grisham suggested that the national criticism Clemson has received for its effort and execution are justified. But he said players must remember that despite the loss' significance, the only thing that matters in the end is whether the Tigers win the ACC title.
"We all should learn that preseason rankings don't matter at all," Grisham said. "We were ranked No. 9 just because we had guys coming back from last year, and I guess people who vote respected us. We worked hard, we did, and felt we prepared well.
"But obviously not. Something went wrong, there was something we didn't do. ... I guess we have to set our standard a little higher."