CLEMSON — K'Von Wallace is not proud of how he performed last season against Texas A&M.
To the untrained eye, it might be hard to pin down the source of the Clemson safety's frustration. He recorded seven tackles, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles in the Tigers' 28-26 win, in addition to intercepting Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond's last minute two-point conversion attempt.
But numbers don't tell the complete story. Wallace, as he said Monday, "left a lot out there," in College Station, Texas. That the Aggies had a chance to tie the contest late, in fact, was a product of Wallace bobbling what would have been a game-ending interception on the previous play. The ball fell into the hands of Texas A&M wide receiver Kendrick Rogers for a touchdown.
Wallace said he had no trouble celebrating the victory. A win's a win. Still, he can't help but enter this weekend's rematch at Death Valley feeling he has something to prove.
"That's a personal thing for me," he said. "And to redeem myself this game, is me, personally, how I feel."
In Clemson's 15-0 campaign, the two-point win over the Aggies represented the Tigers' slimmest margin of victory. It was also one of the rare times coach Dabo Swinney's team was outgained by an opponent; Clemson recorded 413 yards of total offense to Texas A&M's 501.
Mond threw for 430 yards and three touchdowns, including the 24-yard strike to Rogers with 46 seconds remaining that bounced off of Wallace's hands. It wasn't Wallace's only regret from the contest.
"I almost had four interceptions," he said afterwards. "If you go back and watch the film, I almost had four interceptions — I dropped every single one of them.
"Before and after practice, I'm doing the (JUGS machine) all day. It happens, though. God gives all people that he loves challenges. So I feel like if I go and work harder, more blessings will come my way."
Things seem to be going in Wallace's direction now. He's a veteran leader on a Clemson defense with just four returning starters and he said he is on track to receive his undergraduate degree in December.
And the Richmond, Va., native is not taking anything for granted.
"I have a lot of people back home that look up to me," he said. "I have a lot of family that's counting on me to do well, not just on the field, off the field as well."
This season represents Wallace's final year of eligibility, meaning he's likely to declare for the 2020 NFL draft afterwards and attempt to earn a professional contract and provide for his family.
First, he has to help lead a Clemson defense that some outsiders view as less potent than the Tigers' star-studded offense. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables, for what it's worth, has been pleased with his unit's demeanor.
"(It's) more fun to deal with guys with a selfless attitude," Venables said. "(That's) something (that is) very, very noticeable with this group of guys."
For Wallace, with selflessness comes a steady approach. He demurred Monday when asked to respond to Texas A&M offensive lineman Jared Hocker's claim that "there will be an upset," this weekend.
"All we can do is focus on what we control, and that's performing well," Wallace said. "That's all we can do."