Venables pleased with defensive progress

Spencer Shuey tackles Tech runner Orwin Smith in the end zone for a safety in the fourth quarter

Photo by Mark Crammer

Spencer Shuey tackles Tech runner Orwin Smith in the end zone for a safety in the fourth quarter

Tiger D steps up in second half


— Following No.15 Clemson’s 47-31 win over Georgia Tech Saturday, Brent Venables was asked if tackling was the Tigers’ biggest issue entering their only open week of the season.

“I don’t know,” Venables said with a wry smile. “How much time have you got?”

The Tigers’ first-year defensive coordinator was in a much better mood this week despite giving up the exact same amount of points that he did last week at Boston College, as well as 483 yards.

For the horrible tackling plagued Clemson against the Yellow Jackets’ flexbone option, Venables saw positives in a fourth quarter that featured a key safety from Spencer Shuey (the Tigers’ first since 2008), a blocked field goal by Josh Watson (the Tigers’ first since 2010) and generally improved play when he needed it most.

Clemson has plenty to work on this week, but it’s always easier to do so coming off a win. Venables discussed Saturday’s effort, bye week work, tackling in practice and more with reporters.

Overall impressions: “I’m proud of the way they responded in the second half. We lost some leverage and had a couple of poor tackles. We didn’t change a whole lot. I thought our plan was good. You’ve got to trust the guys around you and know what everyone’s responsibility is, but I thought we really responded big-time. We had some huge plays in that second half. I think those were steps of growth and confidence. What a great play, the blocked field goal, the safety, the fourth-down stop. Just defending a little more sound. Tackling in great positions. Big plays sting but we’re so glad this day is done. It’s a tough offense to defend and creates a lot of stress. They do a great job of in-game adjustments. I’m proud of our guys. They didn’t freak out, stayed calm. We made some minor adjustments and they handled those really well. Really great team effort.”

Building on this through the bye week: “I think so. Last week I didn’t feel great about that one but this week I do, just for a lot of reasons. A couple missed tackles in the second half but I thought our guys played in a much more sure, confident way. They made some huge plays. We complemented each other as a team and I think our guys have a right to have some confidence. I liked the way our guys practiced last week and hopefully you demand it and demand it, sometimes guys don’t buy into it. The scout team… the injury report was almost two pages in the course of the week. If we’re any good on defense, it ought to be a bunch of scout team guys on that list. We were pretty proud of that. We’ve grown in some small things.”

On the safety: “Structurally they were running the same option, trying to get outside. The Mike ‘backer Spencer Shuey makes a great play, he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be, trusting everyone inside of him. He has a great read and great positioning. Makes a great play. He gets the guy down. We’d love for that hat to be across the ball but he arm-wrestled him down. What a big play. Huge play. Happy for all those guys, those twos, those threes that stay ready for that moment, that window of opportunity and sometimes it takes a long time to come. Sometimes it doesn’t come real often. You’ve got to be ready to seize the moment and what a great learning moment that’ll be for everybody.”

Is tackling the biggest issue going into the bye week: “I don’t know. How much time have you got? There were times out there that we weren’t very good and some of it was them cracking us good, and a lot of it I believe is us. A lot of times, tackling is attitude but it’s also your assuredness and where I’m supposed to be and where everyone else is, too. There were a couple plays that were kind of disgusting, some missed tackles, but I thought our guys really battled.”

Tackling was a point of emphasis this week, correct: “Believe it or not. I know sometimes it didn’t show. It has been a point of emphasis. We went full-speed (in practice). There’s some risk involved going full-speed, live on Tuesday and Wednesday. Believe it or not I do believe it helped us. We do still have work to do that way, but we’ll go right back to work at it again.”

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Comments » 14

michtiger writes:

Hard to buy the improvement praise. Yes the players try hard and yes a couple of big defensive plays but the same theme: started slow, big plays, out of position etc. I felt sorry for Meeks and the national critique he got. Seems we need some players to have some splinter time until they can play a full game. We have 6 games under our belt and they look the same, they are not rookies. funny the o line is young and improving. Coaches or players is the question on D.

4everAFanGOTIGERS writes:

I tired of hearing their young and new system .. 6 games into the season and the problems havent change... linebackers move slow as h#ll .. like they have lead in ther cleats ... i really think stephone anthony put on too much weight last season he was movin so effortlessly .. now its like his playin in quick sand.. meeks deserved all the criticism .. he takes poor angles always late .. always out of position .. cant tackle( well nobody can do that) ..d-line has improved tho .. i like the way they are playin .. still think its a wrap for goodman he is not gone get any better .. he is not gone have that break out season we've been hopin for .. Tavares Barnes !!!! Tony steward still not playin ??? dont know why think he 100% healthy .. and when he is in he moves way better then any backer we have now... peters did ok .. got beat but the safety was pose to be over the top (smh MEEKS) .. really need to evaluate our backer situation ..shuey made a big safety but he moves slower than all the backers .. christian has really disappointed me ...tig had a few gud games and has been the best of the group... bottom line if they not gettin it done ..NEXT MAN UP!!! bottom line ..jus got a huge boast wit fsu losin to nc state .. think they will lose again this so we really gotta take advantage and step up

DMM writes:

Venables, you obviously watch a different team than I do.

Thomastwc3 writes:

what I see is young men that hasn't adusted to the speed of the college game but I am seeing improvment when it happens it will be like a light was turned on and there will be vast improvement working against our offense on this off week can only help keep the faith folks improvment is coming

waran writes:

I agree with the other Tigers and disappointed that Venables is pleased with our D. He needs to watch some old Clemson Videos. This is not Clemson D and if he is satisfied, this is going to be some disappointing years.

Lynx26 writes:

Like I said while watchin the game:

#34 Christian kills me man... Do you read your keys?!?!

- Not reading keys
- missing tackles
- losing contain

Look good to the average eye... but im simply not impressed for the last 2yrs. (STEWARD PLEASE)

How are you a starting LB and have zero Solo tackles and maybe 2 Assisted vs an OPTION TEAM?! unbelievable.

PS Leggo Tigers

CUNo1Fan writes:

Everything stated above is pretty much spot on. Clemson will never be an elite potential championship team year in and year out until we start concentrating more on the D and D recruiting again. Yes, Venerables needs to go back and watch some film from the 80s to see the kind of D Clemson fans expect to see. If we had that type of D again with the current O, we would be dang near unstopable.

33dtb writes:

After watching the USC-Georgia game ond USC's O-line and D-line, I'm worried.

BigBud52 writes:

Ditto to all the above statements. The way our D is playing right now, our only hope is to continue to score 40 or more points a game. If something is not figured out about the secondary and how to tackle by Nov. 24 we may be looking at another Orange Bowl type beating.

TigerShore12 writes:

Well I'm not going to slam the defense. There is plenty of room for improvement, but in the 2nd half against Boston College and GT, the Tiger defense only gave up 10 points each. This means there is some coaching going on at that half. This is good news, but we need to have the guys more prepared for the first 2 quarters. This will allow some breathing room for everybody....including us fans.

Lynx26 writes:

I just want to be able to know we'll be able to overcome a few 3 n outs, turnovers, etc vs good competition or be able to shut down an offense like last year's V Tech games.

To be honest.... OUR D-LINE is slowly coming ALONG!! lol thats exciting. DT's lookin good

This bye week should get Sammy Wat back in the loop. Would love to see him get going again... Crossing routes, posts, outs..etc not just screens and jet sweeps...or forced deep balls with dbl coverage, smh.

PS.. Leggo Tigers

t1gers writes:

You can't slam Venables for what he was given. He knows what a national stage defense is supposed to be. HE WAS WITH OKLAHOMA FOR A WHILE. They were nationally known for their defense. Our defensive recruits come next season. Our D-line is slowly maturing but THEY ARE GETTING BETTER. It can take time to rebuild a defensive program, be patient fellow tigers! Our team will be well rounded and a national contender within the next few years if not in 2013!

TrevorT writes:

I would be interested to know how many defensive units with a comparable number of freshmen and sophmore starters are outperforming our D. Our youth is not simply an excuse, it's a fact. It's true, we may not have the highest talent level in our upperclassmen, but the main problem is young players starting games when they simply are not ready. It all goes back to gaps left in recruiting, a common mistake from a young coach. I don't see how anyone who's been watching can say there has been no improvement over the last two weeks. True it's slow, but it's there. It may take more than six weeks to get back to 1989.

f8thwlk writes:

The Defense is coming patient. Lets Enjoy what we have right now. This team is a work in progress. Dabo is building a national championship caliber team here. To get there takes time. We all remeber the teams from the eighties and the type defense they played but college football has changed tremedously since then. These players are super fast these days...running QBs and spread offenses. These offenses today were not even on the drawing board in the eighties when the wishbone and power running games dominated the college landscape. Today you need three things above all else on defense...SPEED, SPeed and speed. You cant coach speed, you have to recruit it and unfortunately that takes time. To get the right kind of athletes to commit you have to win games, consistently, and that is what we are now starting to do. Next year will be better than this year and this year will be better than last year. I for one am happy to see the tigers finally wake up and start to come into the modern football era. Tired of all the underachieving years of mediocrity. To be honest I tuned into an early game last year (I think it was the Auburn game) I truthfully expected more underachievement. But when I saw Watkins for the first time taking the rock to the house I got excited for what seems like the first time in years and then I saw Tajh throwing with precision and accuracy, I said now this is what I am talking about. The Future is now, champoinships are not far away. To me the only thing the so-called Orange Bowl debacle showed me is this is the kind of offense (West Virginia's) that we will have to learn to stop in order to be able to dominate the national landscape. Truthfully we are not there yet but the coaches know it...they are pushing in that direction. But at the moment they are forced to do the best with what they have until the speed merchants arrive from afar to man up the defensive side of the football. If we can close the deal on Nkimdeche from Georgia (if momma will relent) then it is a start. If we can run the table the rest of the way this year it will open the door for major recruiting opportunities throughout the south. At that point Clemson will be able to invade Florida and Georgia and recruit players that in the past were bound for Florida schools. I for one am really excited. Every win (no matter who it is against) is a building block and a stepping stone in the right direction. That National Caliber Team and Program must be built one brick at a time. Man I've been holding all this in for a long time....

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