CLEMSON — Saturday was a rarity for Clemson’s defense.
“We’ve had a good camp so far, but today we didn’t perform with the intensity we’re used to,” said senior safety Xavier Brewer. “That’s up to our seniors to get that figured out, and we will.”
Venables’ system has received rave reviews from his players over the last few months. His system prizes reaction and free thinking, and players have responded.
Clemson is returning only one starter - senior defensive end Mallicah Goodman – on the defensive line, but that hasn’t mattered much so far. In addition, Venables has installed sophomore Stephone Anthony as the starting middle linebacker, moving former starter Corico Wright outside to compete with fellow senior Jonathan “Tig” Willard at “Will” linebacker.
Sophomore Bashaud Breeland and junior Darius Robinson are starting at corner, while seniors Brewer, Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks are competing for two safety positons.
Meeks is locking down the strong safety spot, with Hall and Brewer “neck and neck,” in Brewer’s words, for free safety.
Swinney said the secondary struggled Saturday.
“The secondary has been very good all camp except today,” he said. “I thought we tried too much today, guys coming out of their coverage responsibility, and the secondary gets burned. You have to do your job first. A couple double moves, guys got beat in coverage, deep coverage, coming out of their responsibility, trying to do someone else’s job. Today I thought they were struggling, but as far as camp they’ve been really good.”
This week, the Tigers will begin preparing for the season, with game preparation for Sept. 1’s Georgia Dome season opener against Auburn ramping up.
“We have a lot of youth but the youth can play good football,” Brewer said. “It’s up to the seniors to bring intensity every day. We can’t have a flat day like we did today. We’ve got to come hard. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, you’ve got to come with intensity.”