Inside Clemson football: Tiger 'D' marked improvement

Clemson's Corey Crawford and Stephone Anthony appeal to fans to make noise while FSU is on offense during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Corey Crawford and Stephone Anthony appeal to fans to make noise while FSU is on offense during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

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).

Category 2013 2012
Scoring Defense 20.6 23.8
Total Defense 364.4 412.3
Passing Defense 223.7 240
Yards Per Play 5.1 5.8
Yards Per Pass 7.4 7.3
Yards Per Carry 3.7 4.6
Sacks 30-162 18-135
TFL 85-310 55-243
QB Pressures 78 60
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).

© 2013 OrangeAndWhite.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 11

TigerNE writes:

No doubt this defense has made a significant step in the right direction. But the secondary still proved to be about as weak as last year in the FSU game this year. Hopefully some of the new corners and safeties help that.

rsb8931#286014 writes:

Well, this is just great. Write an article on December 1 and let us know how well we stopped Conner Shaw from totaling killing us running out of the pocket. Or how our defense held James Davis' brother, the best tailback in the SEC, to 50 yards rushing. Tell us how our defense held SC to 10 points and 310 yards total offense. Don't' tell me how good we are now tell me how good we are in 3 weeks. Maybe I should say don't write about how much better we are now than last year tell us in 3 weeks how much better we are. I realize this is a comparison but who cares right now. It will matter after the SC game.

Bleedsorange writes:

Rsb you really are a glass half empty guy aren't you. Old school guys (though I understand) have to stop judging a whole season on that one game. If we beat sc awesome (and we will Nov 30th) but this ain't the old days where that one game is the only thing players, coaches, and fans have to hang the season on.

CUNo1Fan writes:

in response to TigerNE:

No doubt this defense has made a significant step in the right direction. But the secondary still proved to be about as weak as last year in the FSU game this year. Hopefully some of the new corners and safeties help that.

Disagree, the secondary is much improved from last year. It was the inability of the line to put any meaningful pressure on Winston that made the secondary look that way. I don't care how good a secondary you have, give any good QB (much less what is obviously going to be a great QB) that much time in the pocket and decent receivers will get free. You can only cover them for so long and if the D line can't do their part in it, then it will get ugly.

The Tigers will continue to dominate teams where they have more talent and can win the LOS and continue to struggle/lose against teams that have top notch trench players that win the LOS against them.

TigerFan95 writes:

The only thing our defense has proven is that it has improved against the inferior teams on our weak ACC schedule. Against top level talent like UGA &FSU we continue to play horribly. Until we start playing consistently good against real teams Im not buying the line that our defense is good.

TigerNE writes:

CU_No1Fan - I see giving O'Leary a 30+ yard per average in 5 touches and every receiver getting double digits per touch as being a breakdown of the secondary. Sure, we gave Winston 34 chances, but we still managed 3 sacks. There was so much wrong with that game it's hard to pin it on any one aspect. Giving up 24 yards on TOs, and throwing obvious interceptions was a key problem for the O. But only forcing 2 punts and allowing such remarkable performance in the air for FSU was a key problem for the D. And the secondary could stop very little of what was going on.

clemvol writes:

Bottom line for defense is the tackling is far better than last year. They finally know to hit and wrap and hold on instead of that stupid bowling tackle. Now all we need to do is increase the pressure from different angles that the opposing offense doesn't know where it's coming from. But for now I would be satisfied to save that for the "last game". Again, play with confidence, play loose and play having fun. Just let the game flow to you.

f8thwlk writes:

Our Defense is AVG. In prior years it was below AVG. You cannot be a perennial BCS contender (routinely beating the likes of FSU, chickens, and Bama) with an AVG. defense.

TigerNE writes:

in response to f8thwlk:

Our Defense is AVG. In prior years it was below AVG. You cannot be a perennial BCS contender (routinely beating the likes of FSU, chickens, and Bama) with an AVG. defense.

I'll take the progress we've seen so far, and see what develops with Ogundeko, Mackenzie Alexander, Pagano and others (2014 class) when they come on board like Korie Rogers. And no reason to think Kearse, Boulware, Garrett, Reader, and others won't conitue to improve. Yet, anyway.

CUNo1Fan writes:

in response to TigerNE:

CU_No1Fan - I see giving O'Leary a 30+ yard per average in 5 touches and every receiver getting double digits per touch as being a breakdown of the secondary. Sure, we gave Winston 34 chances, but we still managed 3 sacks. There was so much wrong with that game it's hard to pin it on any one aspect. Giving up 24 yards on TOs, and throwing obvious interceptions was a key problem for the O. But only forcing 2 punts and allowing such remarkable performance in the air for FSU was a key problem for the D. And the secondary could stop very little of what was going on.

I definitely agree with this part --> THERE WAS SO MUCH WRONG WITH THAT GAME IT'S HARD TO PIN IT ON ANY ONE ASPECT.

Saying that however, I still believe (always have and always will) that the key to any great D or O starts with the big nasties in the trenches. You have to win the LOS or at a bare minimum break even for the rest of the players and the team to win. If you lose the LOS, then unless there are some unusual circumstances, you will lose the game.

If you can't do that, then you will play well against equal to lesser teams but when you hit those top teams who can beat you on the LOS, you will struggle on O and the D will look pitiful.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to CUNo1Fan:

I definitely agree with this part --> THERE WAS SO MUCH WRONG WITH THAT GAME IT'S HARD TO PIN IT ON ANY ONE ASPECT.

Saying that however, I still believe (always have and always will) that the key to any great D or O starts with the big nasties in the trenches. You have to win the LOS or at a bare minimum break even for the rest of the players and the team to win. If you lose the LOS, then unless there are some unusual circumstances, you will lose the game.

If you can't do that, then you will play well against equal to lesser teams but when you hit those top teams who can beat you on the LOS, you will struggle on O and the D will look pitiful.

Your exactly right and thats what I find most concerning about our recruiting. Dabo does well at getting high profile skill players but he stinks at recruiting linemen.

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features