When practice starts this Friday at 5:45 p.m., we will be just 29 days to kickoff of Clemson-Georgia.
Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables says that proximity to gameday has more of an effect on the players than coaches.
“There’s probably more of a sense of urgency,” he said. “Really from the players, coaches act like that all the time. We’re maniacs acting like it’s the end of the world and it’s always the biggest drill in the history of football every day.
“For the players, there’s more of an awareness. Every day that is gone is another day that you can’t get back…It lends credibility to the focus and precision we are asking for each day.”
One of the first areas to watch for come fall camp is what work the players put in this offseason.
“How we continue to develop will be real critical,” said Venables. “What they’ve done in the summer will play a big part. I don’t know what they’ve done. But we’re about to find out. We’ll have three weeks to find that all out and see if our guys have the commitment to have a chance to be a great unit.”
Last season, Clemson improved statistically by 33 spots in scoring defense (48th), 8 in total (63rd) and 26 spots in rushing ‘D’ (57th) – dropping 21 spots in pass defense (71st). 2010 was the last Tigers’ unit to finish in the top-25 nationally in total and scoring defense. Clemson had finished in the top-25 in both categories from 2005-10.
He says getting back to “great” defenses and dealing with the high expectations comes in the oh-so-familiar game-by-game approach.
“I know that if you put the cart before the horse you’re doomed for failure. Coach Morris and I were talking visualizing the ladder,” Venables said. “You get to the top of the ladder – there are 14 (steps) and you’ve got to put your foot on each one to get to the top. You can get from the top to the bottom with one step. You can’t get to the bottom to the top in one step. It doesn’t work that way.
“If you avoid the process, you’ll fail every time. It doesn’t work that way. It may work in the short term, but it will catch up to you. Whether that’s the proverbial coachspeak, that’s just how it is.
“You get your players to buy-in and getting them to consistently make the most out of every opportunity they have – practice time, meeting time, drill work. Our job is to organize it and make it efficient. Motivate and inspire them every day and try to get the most out of them…That’s the key. Georgia is the first one. Doing what we need to do in fall camp, that needs its time too.”