Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables was pleased with the energy his defense played with in No. 5 Clemson’s 56-3 victory over Kent State on Saturday in Death Valley.
All of the talk after the game was about the offense and all the yards and points it put up in the season opener, but the defense’s performance was just as impressive. The Tigers’ held Kent State to 120 total yards, 2.4 yards per play and to just five first downs.
“I loved watched the energy our guys played with,” Venables said. “I just thought they were relentless and played to a standard today. There was no real let up. We had a lot of guys that played, but there was no real noticeable let up so that was fun to watch as well.”
Clemson (1-0) held the Golden Flashes to 54 yards and three first downs in the first half with its starting unit, while the second and third teams allowed just two first downs and 66 yards in the second half.
“Kent State came out and did a bunch of things that we really had not worked on and our guys just immediately adjusted so it really showed a strong level of intelligence and composure as well, and really played kind of a bottled up game, too.”
The Golden Flashes (1-0) surprised Venables a little bit with their lack of wanting to throw the football. Though it is not known as a throwing team, the Tigers prepared for Kent State to throw the football a little more than it did, especially in the first half when they did not attempt a single pass.
“That was not what we prepared for,” the Clemson coach said. “They must not have watched our Georgia Tech film. It felt kind of like that, but I was very surprised.”
Of course Venables is talking about last year’s game in Atlanta when the Tigers held Georgia Tech’s triple- option-style offense to 95 yards rushing. However, the Yellow Jackets did throw the ball a little more compared to Kent State. They completed just four passes in 14 attempts for 29 yards, while the Golden Flashes attempted just five passes, completing one, for one yard.
“That was very tough to get a beat on when you are trying to have some coverage calls and things of that nature and then you have triple option so they don’t coincide, but our guys did well adjusting,” Venables said.
Clemson will have to adjust even more next week when it faces No. 12 Auburn. The SEC’s Tigers opened the season with a strong 41-7 win over Georgia Southern on Saturday. Led by quarterback Jarrett Stidham, Auburn will throw the football a little more and will want to run the ball too with talented running backs Kam Martin and Kevin Johnson, who both rushed for 136 yards against Georgia Southern.
“It is fixing to get real tough and very challenging this week,” Venables said. “We had a good camp and our offense throws the ball all over the lot, too, but it will be dramatically different moving forward.”
But holding a team to 2.7 yards per carry that came in with the idea it was just going to run the football, it was not a bad start for a defense whose goal is to be the best in the country at the end of the year.
“It was a good starting performance,” Venables said. “We are not beating our chest. They have a long season and a conference season they are trying to get ready for too so we have a good perspective on it, but it just wasn’t real sloppy.
“There are plenty of things we will have to correct from it. I saw some missed tackles, missed alignments and things of that nature, but by in large, for as many guys as we played, that was really a good opening performance for us.”