Clemson Football

Amidst criticism from fans on social media, Tanner Muse knows who he plays for

November 29, 2018
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Tanner Muse was only trying to be funny.

The redshirt junior safety had just been a part of one of the worst defensive performances in school history. In Clemson’s 56-35 victory over South Carolina, quarterback Jake Bentley threw for 510 yards and five touchdowns against Clemson’s highly-touted defense.

Many of those yards came from big plays, which were the result of some busted coverages on the backside of the defense. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said things got sloppy with alignments throughout the game, which led the players in the secondary getting burned.

And when those plays happened, everybody noticed.

After the Tigers managed to beat their in-state rival for the fifth consecutive year, Muse walked off the field with his head held high. Over the course of the next 24 hours, his phone began to flood with direct messages on social media from angry Clemson fans who weren’t pleased about his play.

Muse has gotten used to this type of behavior. Head coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday morning that 98-percent of Clemson fans are amazing, but there are also a few who are “completely out of touch.”

Muse has gotten used to this type of behavior. Head coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday morning that 98-percent of Clemson fans are amazing, but there are also a few who are “completely out of touch.”

When Muse saw his mom, Shannon, he decided to read her some of the messages that were sent his way because he thought some of them were funny. “Silly” is the word he used to describe them.

But Shannon didn’t think the messages were silly at all. In fact, she took to her own social media account to let everyone know that these types of “fans” need help once she had heard enough. We don’t blame her.

“I gotta take away her Twitter. That’s the first thing I need to do,” Muse said with a laugh.

Just because Muse may get a bit of a kick out of the messages that sometimes pop up on his screen, doesn’t mean that it’s OK.

Swinney has delivered a message, loud and clear to the Clemson fan base since the 21-point win over South Carolina, no win should ever feel like a loss. Because being consistent, and being a winning program these days is simply too hard.

Just like winning is hard, being a cornerback or a safety in college football can be just as difficult. Because when you make a mistake, you are going to be on full notice to everyone watching. Muse has been used to that spotlight ever since he played Pop Warner football as a kid.

“You’ll never make every play,” his dad would tell him in the car after games. “But the plays you do make act like you’ve been there before. The plays you don’t make, get back up, dust yourself off and get back after it.”

© Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Tanner Muse lines up during the Wake Forest game at BB&T Field. 

And that’s what Muse did during Clemson’s latest win. Even though everyone could point to the issues he may have been a part of, not many are talking much about the two goal-line stands he was a part of. Both stops ended with touchdown drives for the offense, which were the difference in the game.

“You always hear noise here and there but you can’t let it affect you,” Muse said. “You gotta have thick skin, especially playing on the back end. It’s going to be a lot of criticism, and that’s kind of why you play the game. You play the game to further your career and further your experience for your family and your life so there’s always going to be criticism with that so it is what it is.”

An average human being would let the hurtful critiques from random strangers get to them, but Muse said it’s really easy to tune that type of negativity out from his life. Because he doesn’t play for the fans who see him as a player who can’t cover.

Muse knows who he plays for.

“It’s pretty easy not to let it affect you because for me I really only have to prove a point to my family, my coaches, and the Lord above,” Muse said. “As long as I am playing the way He wants me to play, and exemplifying Him through my play, then I’ll be alright.”

“It’s pretty easy not to let it affect you because for me I really only have to prove a point to my family, my coaches, and the Lord above,” Muse said. “As long as I am playing the way He wants me to play, and exemplifying Him through my play, then I’ll be alright.”

The safety has 62 tackles, four pass breakups, and two interceptions in 518 snaps in 2018. Venables has praised Muse this season for his improvement as a player from last season’s run to the College Football Playoff.

Muse told us weeks ago that he looks at some of those negative messages as a source of motivation for his next game.

As for the fans who send him messages, Muse rarely responds. But when he does, they usually all read the same way:

“Thank you for the love and support,” and “hopefully I’ll play better from it.”

Amazing.

This weekend, Muse returns to his home state of North Carolina to compete for a fourth consecutive ACC title against Pittsburgh. Muse said he’s looking forward to being back close to his home in Belmont, North Carolina, where the air feels a little different.

When he takes the field inside Bank of America Stadium on Saturday night, there will be plenty of fans in orange cheering him and Clemson on. If he makes a mistake here or there and a big play from Pittsburgh’s offense comes of it, he may hear more of that same criticism online.

But all that matters to Muse is getting one more win with his teammates, no matter what. If fans are going to be critical of his play, so be it. But that’s not going to discourage him from being a good player and that’s not going to keep him from enjoying a victory.

Because Muse knows who he plays for - and it isn’t for the people who critically slide into his DMs.

“You’re never going to please everybody, and we know that,” Muse said. “At the end of the day, it’s about what we do and not what everybody else does. As long as we get the win, we aren’t really worried about what everyone else has to say.

“You gotta have thick skin playing this position and I think I’ve done a good job over the years of being able to create that.”

 
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