Clemson receiver Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled in the first quarter Saturday afternoon against Auburn, leading to an Auburn field goal.
In the past the play might have led to more mistakes by McCloud. Instead, the junior was determined to make up for it.
The Tampa native led Clemson in all purpose yards with 98 and receiving yards with 81 as Clemson went on to earn a 14-6 victory.
“When he would make a mistake last year here would come two more. That’s just maturity,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “I’m proud of him. He came back.”
McCloud made one of the biggest mistakes of his career last season against Troy as he appeared to return a punt for a touchdown but instead he dropped the ball on the 1-yard line.
Troy was awarded the football and went on to play Clemson close before falling 30-24.
But Swinney said he has seen tons of improvement from McCloud since then.
“His mental toughness, his focus, his attention to detail, his practice habits, everything is completely different. It’s the way it should be. It’s the way I’d have loved for it to be when he got here as a freshman,” Swinney said. “He’s always been incredibly talented. He’s easily one of our best players, and I think he’s poised to have a really special year… I needed to see him respond that way, and he did. I think that’s a real positive moving forward.”
Tigers co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jeff Scott agreed that he learned a lot about McCloud during the win over Auburn.
Following the fumble, the next time McCloud touched the ball he returned a punt for eight yards to set Clemson up near midfield.
“I could tell when he took that punt return the very next series, I could tell with the way he was running with the ball that he knew he had a little bit of making up to do, and I felt like he did that,” Scott said. “It was definitely good to see. That’s what we talk to our guys about all the time, when you’re playing good opponents you’re going to make mistakes, those things are going to happen. Let’s learn from it, and how do we respond? Let’s not let one mistake lead down the road to other mistakes.”