“Adapt and improvise” – it's a phrase Clemson defensive backs coach Mike Reed learned from a Marines vet dad that has come in handy over the last couple months.
Reed, for the first time in over a decade of coaching, was a part of coaching staff that was let go, at N.C. State.
“It was new to me so I wanted to know what to expect,” he said, seeking counsel of fellow coaches during that time. “Not to mention I had a wife and two kids looking at me. I had to have answers for them.”
Before coaching his last game with the Wolfpack, that answer came, as Clemson agreed to bring him on board to replace the departing Charlie Harbison, at a spot to watch in 2013.
One of his cornerbacks with starting experience, rising junior Garry Peters, missed significant time this spring due to attitude and academic issues per Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. Also in the early-going, both starting safety Travis Blanks and early enrollee Jadar Johnson were held out after sustaining injuries.
All-in-all, the secondary from this spring, with an influx of talent to come this summer, isn’t what you will see battling in fall camp. Reed again fell back on his dad’s words there.
“That’s what I do. You would like to have all the bullets in your gun so you can shoot them,” he said, “but I didn’t it so you just have to work with what you have.”
Reed told his secondary unit “it’s time to go” after evaluating the practice session.
“We haven’t had anybody right yet to take control and jump out,” he said. “Everybody is still kinda feeling their way through and still learning the technique that I want to be perfected.”
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables praised the development of safeties Blanks and Robert Smith after the spring game. Reed, however, wasn’t ready to say he’s pleased with any spot yet.
“I don’t feel comfortable with nobody,” he said. “That’s just how I am. I’m going to reach for the stars. I’m going to reach for greatness. At the end of the day, I’m above average and I don’t want to be average.
“I set lofty goals not only for myself but also for my players. I expect them to get them.”
The development he sees most crucial isn’t always on the field.
“I’m demanding,” Reed said. “I tell my kids and I tell my parents there will be opportunities in my meeting room where we’re just going to talk about life. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t take care of the stuff out there – you can’t take care of the stuff in here.”
Reed says he has a phone dedicated to his players being able to contact him at all hours of the day and night if necessary.
“These young men need to be out there (after college) shuffling their feet and be productive citizens in jobs, as fathers and husbands,” he said. “I’m a little different in that aspect because to some people – it’s all about football. And it’s not to me. I’d be doing them a disservice if I sent them in the world not ready for life.
“That’s what it’s all about – the game of life.”