Venables likes his aggressive Clemson 'D'

Clemson's Brent Venables talks with Clemson's Grady Jarrett during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Brent Venables talks with Clemson's Grady Jarrett during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

While Chad Morris is getting on his offense this week, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is pushing for more – but still pretty pleased through two games.

He talks physicality, effort, their attack mindset and more…

Most sound game yet versus S.C. State?: I think it was a solid performance. Any time you’re playing 83 guys you’re bound to have some things you need to improve at. I liked the way our guys competed. They had great focus, great energy, were physical – all the guys out there from the first-team guys to the third and fourth. I was really pleased with effort and focus as much as anything. Because of that, I thought we played well as a result.

Kearse gets on the field


I was pleased with our corners. They had good position and played physical. That was very encouraging. We had a couple pick-sixes and that’s guys being sure of themselves and guys doing what we hope they would do under those circumstances. We were really physical in the run game and they were a team that forced you to play with a tremendous amount of discipline. They ran a number of formations and motions and shifts and a lot of gap exchange responsibilities and I thought our guys handled those things for the most part well.

Containing S.C. State’s run game: I thought South Carolina State’s well-coached upfront. They’ve got a good-looking football team. They run hard and it kind of stresses you a little bit structurally. Again for the most part, we matched the physicality and precision that’s required and they’re a very persistent team as you well know. I thought our guys were very pleased with the discipline we showed.

Room for improvement moving forward: Everything. We still have depth issues and we’re going to be stressed a lot of different ways throughout the year – a lot of good quarterbacks and good offenses that we’re going to see. Our pressure has to improve, our coverage has to improve both on underneath and the back-end behind. We have to continue our disguise and communication on the field and pad level across the board. There’s a lot of things that we can improve at. We have to eliminate big-play touchdowns. It’s one thing to get some big plays, but we have to get guys on the ground.

Any young players stand out from Saturday? No, not really. I thought the young guys came in and the guys that hadn’t played - and played well.

Backup safety situation: We’re not as far along as you want, but not that far away either. You try to overload them and see what they can handle. I thought they came in and played pretty well. We didn’t get (Bashaud) Breeland at safety, but there was no need for him to expose himself to injury and he knows what to do. He’s another option there as well so those guys are improving and at some point in time this season that depth is going to be tested.

Scoring TDs on defense: I think it just shows that we’ve got some guys with ball-skill awareness and know what to do when they get it. They’re sure of themselves and play in an aggressive manner. Pressure up front caused one of those (TDs) for sure – Quandon (Christian) does a good job of awareness, deflecting that one pass that D-Rob (scored on). I just think it’s a collective effort in regards to guys being sure of themselves and playing in an attack mentality.

Being a big-play defense: I don’t know the measuring stick outside of when you’re disruptive that way it has a dramatic effect on the game and gets an offense out of the flow and score points. If you combine that with the kind of offense we have, I think it’s a pretty solid recipe. It’s hard to maintain. Those things don’t just happen. Pick-sixes don’t fall out of a tree, but that being said I hope that the turnovers and the aggressive mentality are a byproduct of both the players understanding what they’re doing and the guys playing in an aggressive manner.

Improvement from DT Grady Jarrett: He was pretty good last year. If you had said last year that Grady would show up just as good as he was – no better, no worse – would you take it? Absolutely, he’s a very good football player. He brings all of the intangibles and the playmaking ability – very disruptive. Is he better or worse? He looks like at least the same guy to me and he’s been really good. He’s hard to block and he’s been very sound and he’s where he’s supposed to be.

Grady has been really good and I’ve been pleased with his leadership and I bet you would say two games in a year ago that he’s not nearly where he is right now and certainly not where he ended up last year. We’ve come a long way since Ball State a year ago.

Safeties Travis Blanks and Robert Smith through two games: Pretty solid. Consistent and always looking to get better. There’s nobody that’s played a perfect first two games. There’s things that were really good and things that were not so good and things that we have to get corrected. Those two guys are guys that take it personally and very prideful young guys that work hard at their craft. Any issues that have been there from the negative standpoint – they’ll be the first in line to correct it.

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