Still, Hawkins was confident with how he quarterbacked the defense in the 35-10 win over North Texas. The pre-snap responsibilities that come with playing middle linebacker for Kevin Steele, Hawkins, for the most part, had it all down.
"I made every call correctly, I lined everybody up correctly and I made all the assignments all the checks with no problem at all," Hawkins said.
Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse once the ball was snapped.
During their nearly 42 minutes of possession, the Mean Green piled up 462 yards while going 11 of 22 on third downs.
"Technique, proper angles—I missed a few tackles here and there," Hawkins said. "One in particular turned into like a 40-yard gain, which I was devastated."
The play was a shovel pass to running back Lance Dunbar.
"After I watched the film, I was like, ‘Dang, I should have taken a better angle to the football.' I would have made that tackle and it would have been a tackle for loss. It wouldn't have been a big gash. After watching film and looking at that, I was devastated for that particular play. Like I said, it's a work in progress."
Hawkins moved to the starting middle linebacker spot when Brandon Maye went down with an injury during last season's bowl practice. Hawkins responded with seven tackles on 40 snaps in the Music City Bowl win over Kentucky.
Heading into last week's season opener, he had only 119 snaps and 19 tackles during his Clemson career. Hawkins realizes it's not always going to be smooth in the early stages of his career.
"I have to just continue to work and get better at every part," he said. "It's not one part of my game that was perfect. There's never going to be a perfect game. There's always room for improvement and things I need to work on."
Room to grow
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