Notes: Venables 'tired' of big plays allowed, freshmen getting work at LB

Clemson's Jayron Kearse during practice at the Clemson Football Practice Facility.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Jayron Kearse during practice at the Clemson Football Practice Facility.

Total defense is a deceptive stat, Brent Venables says. Big plays and points really tell the story.

And Clemson gave up far too many big plays in year one of his system.

The Tigers surrendered 45 completions of 20 or more yards, which ranked 93rd nationally.

“I’m tired of seeing the big plays,” Venables said. “That’s the big thing. You can’t play good defense giving up big plays. We’re going to play more snaps. We just are.

“I’m looking at points per game. If we improve by five points from a year ago, that’s a really good improvement.”

Five points’ improvement is about what Clemson did ’11 to ’12 (4.5), moving up 33 spots to a finish 48th in the nation in scoring ‘D.’ Five points better than that would have landed the Tigers in the top-20 nationally.

Overall, Venables says the goal is to make the leap towards a top-10 to 15 defense and that takes a combination of factors.

“Playing great on third down, great pressure, creating negative plays and playing great in the red zone again,” he said, “and keeping them out of the endzone – improving our scoring defense.”

Freshmen getting work at OLB: Redshirt freshman T.J. Burrell and true frosh Jayron Kearse are both getting work at SAM. T.L. Hanna’s own Ben Boulware is working in a crowded group at MIKE and Good Counsel’s Dorian O’Daniel is working at both outside spots.

The big-bodied Kearse came in with the potential to play on both sides of the ball – and multiple positions too.

In southwest Florida, he played both a dual-threat quarterback and wide receiver at Sammy Watkins’ alma mater South Fort Myers last season, in addition to safety where he earned local defensive player of the year honors (74 tackles, four INTs).

So far, Venables isn’t committing to a landing spot for the top-100 recruit (Scout), but his first comparison was to Travis Blanks, who started in a nickelback role last season.

“He’s over 200 pounds now and Travis Blanks played there last year at 190,” said Venables. “He’s 6-4 and runs a 4.5 (40-time). So, with that length it’s really like running 4.4.”

There’s one particular characteristic you will notice about him when he gets on the field.

“(He brings) length and athletic ability. He has a pretty good football IQ,” Venables said. “Good instincts. Good ball skills. Long, real long – did I say he was long?”

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Comments » 6

seldomusedreserve#284867 writes:

Could Kearse be the answer to my Nickel Backer question from last week? Interesting.

lhaselden writes:

I think he will play Blanks position from last year ( I think of it as a hybrid nickel) and transition to safety next year.

Lynx26 writes:

Finally... I'll take anyone but Quandon Christian. A young talented, long, physical presence is much better than watching Christian play flag football out there for the past few seasons.

Smith seems to be solid(so I hear)
Blanks is solid
Kearse will make a solid impact for years

Pleased with our entire secondary and LBs

Also would love to see Tony Steward out there making plays like i know he can/will.

Just keep Christian off of the field unless he's a sub in a 3rd and long or special teams guy. Way too soft to play LB and cannot set the edge... Film doesn't lie.

cuGIZ82 writes:

Kearse has the ability to be an impact player. Our starting safties should play well this season. The LB corps has been assembled well. Quandon Christian has been playing out of position his entire career. Dude is the size of a safety. He just recently weighed in at 230lbs to play his final year. Any time you have a 215-220lbs LB of course he will have a difficult time shedding the block of 300-320lbs O-linemen.

Lynx26 writes:

in response to cuGIZ82:

Kearse has the ability to be an impact player. Our starting safties should play well this season. The LB corps has been assembled well. Quandon Christian has been playing out of position his entire career. Dude is the size of a safety. He just recently weighed in at 230lbs to play his final year. Any time you have a 215-220lbs LB of course he will have a difficult time shedding the block of 300-320lbs O-linemen.

Man 215-220lbs is the norm now days because of the spread offense and speed driven philosophies. 230lbs + are the size of Mike LBs in this day and age. Yes he has all the size in the world(tall, long, good weight), but he plays too soft.

- Doesn't have the hips or speed to play safety
- Not physical enough to play a true 4-3, 4-2 LB
- Doesn't blitz well
- Average tackler at best
- cannot get off of blocks(stays blocked)

To say he's been playing out of position is an idiotic statement.... The guy is playing the exact same position he's been playing 3yrs in a row.

Passing downs should be the only time he's on the field... either spying QB or lined up on a RB(shadowing).

In order for us to be a solid corp, he'll have to find his niche and excel in it or stay off the field while younger guys take his spot.

WATCH HIS GAME FILM... from beginning to end before you reply to my statements. (Florida State was pathetic, USC, LSU, G. Tech, etc.)

There's a reason he's never been a dependable LB... as a SR with countless game-time reps, one should be a penciled in starter and IMPACT PLAYER.

Instead, he's a guy that will get the nod early week one bc he's an upperclassmen which will be subbed in and out... who will then be replaced as the season progresses.

We finally have a sold group of LBS now... instead of under-athletic safeties who can't flip there hips good enough to stay in the secondary.

Trust me... I've been on and played at the highest levels.

*** Christian should be used on 3rd downs... not a knock. Thats just his skill set.

GO Tigers!

cuGIZ82 writes:

in response to Lynx26:

Man 215-220lbs is the norm now days because of the spread offense and speed driven philosophies. 230lbs + are the size of Mike LBs in this day and age. Yes he has all the size in the world(tall, long, good weight), but he plays too soft.

- Doesn't have the hips or speed to play safety
- Not physical enough to play a true 4-3, 4-2 LB
- Doesn't blitz well
- Average tackler at best
- cannot get off of blocks(stays blocked)

To say he's been playing out of position is an idiotic statement.... The guy is playing the exact same position he's been playing 3yrs in a row.

Passing downs should be the only time he's on the field... either spying QB or lined up on a RB(shadowing).

In order for us to be a solid corp, he'll have to find his niche and excel in it or stay off the field while younger guys take his spot.

WATCH HIS GAME FILM... from beginning to end before you reply to my statements. (Florida State was pathetic, USC, LSU, G. Tech, etc.)

There's a reason he's never been a dependable LB... as a SR with countless game-time reps, one should be a penciled in starter and IMPACT PLAYER.

Instead, he's a guy that will get the nod early week one bc he's an upperclassmen which will be subbed in and out... who will then be replaced as the season progresses.

We finally have a sold group of LBS now... instead of under-athletic safeties who can't flip there hips good enough to stay in the secondary.

Trust me... I've been on and played at the highest levels.

*** Christian should be used on 3rd downs... not a knock. Thats just his skill set.

GO Tigers!

Man calm down...it is not that serious. You gave a decent analysis of what you seen on film. So I take it you are on the coaching staff? You break down game film of each game? I agree he has issues shedding blocks. Clemson has had a 10 year run of bringing in 210-220lbs LBs but they are now bringing in heavier LBs, like LSU, BAMA, UGA, & USC to name a few. Teams who play with tiny LBs always have issues against the run because they don't have the weight or strength to shed blocks.

His coaches must see something they like on film because he has been a major contributor since he (Christian) arrived on campus. They like his coverage skills. There are are articles on this very site in which they praise his ability to cover slot receivers. So for you to say he doesn't have the skill set to play safety, is an idiotic statement and you should watch more film.

We can agree to disagree on this topic. We all have opinions and ours don't have to be the same. We see the game differently. He has been playing out of position, in my opinion. You say he has been playing in the correct position just under performing. We can agree on the under performing part.

CU PRIDE!!!

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