By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Safety Jonathan Meeks was under a considerable amount of pressure Saturday against the Wofford Terriers, with his other half, safety Rashard Hall out with a knee injury and cornerback Xavier Brewer out for violating team rules. Meeks and cornerback Coty Sensabaugh were left as the only starters in Clemson’s secondary with ample game experience to face Wofford’s tricky offense.
Although Meeks did his part to contain the Terrier’s offense, missed tackles were definitely a cause for concern, and is something both Meeks and starting linebacker Corico Hawkins spoke about on Monday.
“The problem that our defense has had with tackling over the past two games has mainly been in not wrapping up correctly,” Meeks said. “I know me personally; I have to do a better job of wrapping up this week against Auburn than I did versus Wofford.”
In order to prepare himself for the reigning National Champions, Meeks spent Sunday afternoon in the film room going over his game versus the Terriers and focusing on what he can do to tackle better.
“There are a lot of things that I can improve on this week,” Meeks said. “For instance, there was one hit I made during the Wofford game where I sort of bounced off the guy instead of wrapping him up, I went for the kill shot, a lot of players would if they got the opportunity but it all goes back to fundamentals, I need to stick to fundamentals.”
Meeks knows that if he continues to practice tackling properly it will become second nature to him, instead of having to think about the proper tackling technique to use while on the field.
“I just need to keep working at it,” Meeks said. “Every time I make a tackle I need to know where to wrap my arms and legs.”
With both Hall and Brewer out against the Terriers, most would think that Meeks would be under a lot of pressure to cover up for the inexperienced players starting the game in their place, however Meeks didn’t feel like he had to cover up for anyone, saying that the yards that the Terriers did get were not the fault of the younger players.
“I wasn’t too worried about them,” Meeks said. “It was an option team that we were going against and I feel like the yards that they did get, it wasn’t the younger guys fault at all.”
Miscommunication is another area that Meeks believes the Tigers need to improve on, being the cause of a few big plays for the Terriers last weekend.
“Miscommunication caused their (Wofford’s) first completion,” Meeks said. “When you’re playing an option team, they run a lot of cracking on the safeties and a corner thought it was a crack on me and it was really a crack and go, so you really need to communicate and talk things out like that. That’s where option quarterbacks they don’t throw a lot of passes but they’ll get a lot of yards because they’ll get guys a lot.”
After going against a hodge-podge offense like Wofford’s, Meeks is definitely looking forward to playing against an offense that is similar to Clemson’s own offense.
“It should be a good game,” Meeks said. “The fact that we’ve been going against this offense for six months helps a lot but practice doesn’t simulate what it’s really going to be like against Auburn. But going against Coach Morris and Tajh will definitely help us going into Saturday.”
Although Meeks didn’t play very much in the Tigers’ meeting last season with Auburn that ended in overtime, he did learn from his teammates who were on the field what to expect.
“From the defensive meeting afterwards and from talking to my teammates I learned that you just have to do your assignment and be disciplined when you’re playing a team like Auburn. You’ve got to stick to your assignments; don’t look at all of the window dressing that’s going on.”
Although Auburn is missing their key ingredient to their National Championship season last year in quarterback Cam Newton, Meeks is not looking past them and knows that they’ll still be a difficult team to beat.
“They’ve still got a lot of play makers left at the receiver position,” Meeks said. “It’ll be hard to replace guys like Cam Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner, but they’ve got five star guys that they’ve recruited just like we do here so they’ll be ready.”