Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables was happy with his outfit after spring football and then fall camp – and through three games, he’s seen three wins and that positive attitude has carried over. He hits where the Tigers can improve and who’s stood out so far here…
Tiger ‘D’ has handled adversity:We made a lot strides in a lot of areas and still have a long ways to go, but I love the attitude of the group of guys. The willingness to fight and handle adversity well. You have to compete over and over and over. That’s what we’ve been consistent about through three games. We’ve made some improvement. The silver lining is we’ve found a way to get to 3-0 and it’s on to the next one.
Improvement over a year ago in the secondary: They’ve tackled better. Guys aren’t just running free. We’re far from perfect. Those things give you a chance. If you can’t tackle when you’re supposed to be the tackler – we are division one football around here and then if guys are running free.
You can’t do anything right (out of position). You can’t get into any groove and as a playcaller it’s hard to hide guys. We’ve improved that way. It’s a young season but we’ve shown better discipline that way. Guys have focused on doing their job and understanding their job – that gives you a chance.
Swinney previews Wake, pt. 2
Vic Beasley’s development as a leader: The way he’s practiced and his preparation – he’s more mature about everything. He’s had some success and he likes the taste of it. He’s smart enough to realize the reason he has success. He some ability, but I think the work that’s evolved has led to his success.
Players at different development levels: When they’ve shown just enough, that gives you confidence. A guy is not going to give you a blind dog in a meat market every day and then show up as Superman on gamedays. The other way, I use (Ben) Boulware as an example. He shows instincts and toughness and he’s physical and focused. He’s intense. If we were backed in a corner, he would be ready to play. He’ll come along rather quickly.
There’s some other guys that don’t show that same quality in practice, whether it’s mental errors or lack of physicality or bad body language – you name it….Occasionally you’ll have the third team guy, where you never saw anything and there’s two injuries and he had to go out there and you’re panic-stricken – and he’s pretty good. He’s not great, but really pretty good. That’s certainly not the norm.
Cutting down on big plays: They had a few big plays. We don’t want to give up any big plays. It’s the goal of every defense not to give up big plays. It’s momentum. It’s field position. It’s everything. We’re working hard to correct our mistakes from a week ago…The discouraging things about those is a couple of the jet sweeps are things that are so simple. It’s not a trick play. Leveraging the football is paramount to run defense and we had trouble to get our guys to execute them.
Difference from last year’s first quarter of the season: This is still a group of guys that however you look at it – give or take seven new starters – and it’s still a group trying to find itself. We really like the way we’ve been challenged different ways the first three games. We have for the most part answered the bell when it counts the most. Our guys have a great attitude and it’s an intelligent group of guys.
Loss of Kellen Jones for the season: It’s just one less linebacker that’s shown the ability to step and make plays. He’s one less body. We had three at one position and now we have two. It hurts us in the special teams and you just hate it for Kellen because he’s very emotionally invested in the game. That’s hard when it’s taken away.