Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables does not remember that his defense ranked eighth nationally in total defense and 10th in scoring defense. All he knows right now, after eight practices this spring, his unit has some work to do.
“Every year presents knew problems, new issues, new concerns,” he said. “Some of it is good some of it is not good. One day it is this, the next day it is that. When you are working with 17, 18, 19 and 20-year old kids that is what you are dealing with.”
However, it can’t be that bad. Venables defense won last Wednesday’s scrimmage. The defense forced two turnovers, had eight tackles for loss and four sacks. Linebacker Tre Lamar and Shaq Smith led the defense with seven tackles apiece. Defensive end Clelin Ferrell added six tackles, while defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney had three sacks. Felllow tackle Christian Wilkins had a pair of tackles for loss, as did Lamar. Linebacker Dorian O’Daniel had an interception, a sack and four tackles.
But none of that made Venables happy.
“There is a lot you are working with right now,” he said. “You are just trying to teach guys how to practice, how to compete, how to stay humble, how to get better fundamentally, how to line up right, how to lead right, there are a million things that you are working on every day. It is never good enough.”
Maybe the reason Venables was a little sour on the last day of practice before the players started spring break was due to the fact his defense gave up a 70-yard touchdown drive at the end of the scrimmage. Quarterback Kelly Bryant completed 4-of-5 passes on the drive, including a 39-yard completion to Hunter Renfrow. That scoring drive came against the first-team defense.
“Some guys in some aspects and some schemes are getting better and there are others where they are not where we want them to be right now and we probably do not expect them to be for a while,” the Clemson coach said. “But there is a lot of time between now and the start of the season and there is a lot of work to be done.”
—Photo Credit: Bart Boatwright/The Greenville News via USA TODAY NETWORK
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