FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables wants no part of a “shootout” — it’s happening Friday or really the word in general.
“Coach, this game is kind of getting labeled as a possible shootout” a south Florida reporter said, approaching a question — right where the second-year Tigers’ coach cut her off.
“I don’t ever think (about shootouts) — I don’t like that one bit,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Ohio State, if it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers, it doesn’t matter. Your job on defense is to stop people. So everybody wants to say it’s a shootout, you take offense to that.
“But that’s not just this game, you know. You play in a high powered offense in today’s age of football, whether it’s the NFL or it’s in college.”
Shootout? Venables has another idea
Venables doesn’t have to look much further than either side of the Orange Bowl matchup for that evolution, but his goal has remain unchanged in 18 years of coaching.
“They’re offensive driven,” he continued, “and the rules set it up for them to have an advantage per se. We know we have a great challenge on Friday night, but we’re not playing it on defense like let’s just get one more stop than them. That’s not how we operate, no matter who we’re playing.
“We know that, if we don’t do things right, we turn the ball over, we give up big plays, we don’t stop the run, we don’t have somebody in the A-gap when we need to, they’ll break the scoreboard. But that’s not any different than any other week when you’re playing a quality offensive opponent.”
“I felt it was getting a little intense up there,” Shuey said. “I felt like we were at practice today. It’ll be interesting — I’m sure he’ll tell us in the meetings about how fired up he was. It will definitely be more motivation.”
“Who says it has to be a shootout? That’s my answer to that,” said Anthony. “That’s what people try to label the game as not believing in our defense.”
Vegas lines are calling for up to 70 combined points between the ACC and Big Ten foes, but both Clemson and Ohio State rank inside the top-22 nationally in scoring defense.
The Tigers are allowing just over three touchdowns plus the PAT a game (21.3), but in losses, they have given up 33 points a game. Against ranked opponents, that number grows to 39 a game.
Away from the Death Valley, they are surrendering only 19.2 per on average.
Last time out with South Carolina, Clemson faced as similar an attack to Ohio State as they have all of 2013 in the quarterback-tailback rushing duo of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde (over 2,400 rushing yards) and an efficient passing game (No. 13 in QB rating). Sunk by turnovers in the end, the Tigers held South Carolina to its second-lowest yard output of the season (318).
Shuey says it won’t be any one player helping contain the Buckeyes.
“Guys always kind of want to jump out of their gaps and try to make someone else’s play and that’s when everything falls apart,” Shuey said. “You have to rely on the other guys around you and trust them to do their job and they’ll definitely help you do your job. It definitely takes a full 11 guys working together.
“That’s the great thing about football, it’s a team sport and you have to trust the guys around you and count on them.”
Venables is hoping the experts are wrong about this one, recalling his experience as an Oklahoma coordinator matching up with a juggernaut 2000 Florida State offense.
“Everybody says it’s going to be (a shootout), I wonder how many points, whoever has the ball last,” he said, “and next thing you know, it’s 13-2. That’s what they said in 2000 when we played for the national championship at Oklahoma against Florida State and they had broken all those records.
“I don’t think it will be that kind of a performance, but you can always hope.”