CLEMSON – Senior linebacker Spencer Shuey just jumps off the tape from the Clemson opener.
Well, that’s nothing new – Shuey’s jumped off the tape since his first starts last season, compiling nearly 11 tackles per game.
Saturday night, however, the Tigers had a tandem to reckon with in Shuey and junior middle linebacker Stephone Anthony.
Shuey humbled by honor
Anthony, who moved Shuey from middle to weakside in the offseason, got a share of sack and posted a career-high 13 tackles playing a career-high 74 snaps.
“It was excellent. It was his best game since I’ve been here,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “I thought he was aggressive and sure of himself. Played well.”
Their routes to Clemson couldn’t have been much different.
Both hailing from the Tar Heel State, Anthony was the five-star No. 1-rated outside linebacker picking the Tigers over offers from Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Florida among more. Shuey was recruited by Billy Napier as a three-star picking Clemson over offers from Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Marshall and Wake Forest.
After competing with each other, they’re now competing alongside each other as the Tiger ‘D’ looks to improve in year two of Venables’ scheme.
“Being comfortable and being able to trust the guy next to you is a huge, huge thing in football,” Shuey said. “Me and Stephone have been able to build that chemistry and when there’s 80,000 people out there screaming and the d-line can’t hear your calls – having multiple guys out there that can communicate is big.”
The progression for Anthony is especially critical after he admittedly got a little lost last season beginning as the starter and seeing his playing time dwindle as the year went on.
“For Stephone, you build your defense inside-out,” Venables said. "To have a middle linebacker to play with the assuredness and physicality – and (to) stay on your feet and blitz the right way makes a big difference.”
They are two key players in a Clemson defense that Venables is confident will improve as the season goes on.
“I don’t really want to compare it to last year,” he said, “but I do think it’s a group that has a strong understanding of what we want and it’s a group that has invested heavily in just knowing football.
“Whether it’s philosophy or situation, our total overall awareness is definitely improved. As a coaching staff you feel like they get it.”