We've compared and contrasted the Clemson offense year-to-year and to all three seasons under Chad Morris, but the year one to year two improvement of Brent Venables' defense has been the story.
At this point last season, they were starting to come on, but still ranked 70th in total defense, 76th in rush defense, 61st in pass defense and T-44 in sacks.
Through a more challenging nine game slate, they are currently 33rd in both total and rushing 'D,' T-52 in pass defense - leading the nation in tackles for loss (9.4 per game) and sixth in sacks (3.33).
On the scoreboard, Clemson has its first top-25 scoring defense since 2009 (20.6 ppg). They've given up their fair share of big plays to factor in, but only eight teams have allowed less scores in the red zone (15) and seven teams less attempts (20).
The Tigers are No. 4 in third down defense (.286), where they finished in the middle of the pack last season (64, .390).
Clemson defense year-to-year improvement (9 games)
|Yards Per Play||5.1||5.8|
|Yards Per Pass||7.4||7.3|
|Yards Per Carry||3.7||4.6|
|3rd Down D||.286||.333|
|1st Downs Per Game||16.9||19.6|
|Passes of 20+/Runs of 10+ per||8||9.1|
Vic Beasley's 10 sacks are second in the nation in a unit that has 12 more sacks than it did through nine contests last season. Stephone Anthony joins Beasley in the top-30 in tackles for loss (10.5).
More top-25 categories for Venables' defense include: No. 7 in INTs (15) and turnovers forced (23), No. 17 in pass efficiency 'D' (110.9), 19th in fumbles recovered (8) and No. 21 in first down defense (152).
Boyd Record Watch
But wait, there's more records in reach for Clemson signal-caller Tajh Boyd.
* He is three passing scores from breaking the ACC career record held by former N.C. State quarterback Philip Rivers (95).
* He is eight completions from breaking the Clemson record held by Charlie Whitehurst (817).
* He is 41 rushing yards from being the first in ACC history to reach 10,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards.
* He can become only the second 30 game-winner in Clemson history, at two short of tying the record for a QB (32, Rodney Williams).