By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- One thing Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables knows after only a few practices with the Clemson Tigers is that he likes what he sees.
“I’ve seen good effort from the guys, they’re staying focused,” Venables said. “Guys are hungry, and many of them feel like they have a lot to prove, they have a willingness to work and stay the course. I’m not seeing a lot of regression which is very good, mentally or physically. They really competed hard today and I’m happy to see that.”
Venables who has always been known as a linebacker guru at both Kansas State and Oklahoma compare the linebacker talent at Clemson to that at Oklahoma but has been pleased so far with what he’s seen out of that group.
“They’re very talented,” Venables said. “I really like their attitude, there’s enough guys that have played, a group that has good experience and football intelligence. We’re just working on a lot of little things right now, trying to develop guys, develop a two deep, who can do what, what their strengths are and what they have to work on. It’s a reflection on all of the defensive guys though, they all have a great attitude and willingness to work and get better.”
Venables is still rotating a group of guys at the position, instead of settling on only a few right now.
“We’re mixing and matching different guys for different packages,” Venables said. “The good thing is that I don’t feel empty handed, there’s enough guys and different skill sets to complement each other well, doing things that we need to do to be successful.”
As a first year coordinator for the Tigers, Venables doesn’t have a timeline for when he wants to have all of his defense installed however he believes that with what the Tigers’ know now, they can win football games.
“I don’t have a percentage, but we don’t have a whole lot in right now,” he said. “We have a good foundation in, a foundation that you can win football games with. All of those schemes and everything else, they’re not any good without a good foundation, attitude, toughness, intelligence, and guys playing with effort. We’re trying to get all of those things to become a second nature, develop that type of mindset.”
A lot of fans have talked about freshman defensive back Travis Blanks and redshirt freshmen Cortez Davis and the impact that they’ll have on the team when they step on the field, Venables weighed in on both players on Wednesday.
“Good, some good and some bad,” he said. “The lack of experience sometimes shows, but their athleticism, ball skills, Cortez has good length, Travis has length, intelligence and instincts, and they’re growing and getting better. They’ll definitely both help us this season.”
As far as the competition at the defensive tackle position, Venables has been pleasantly surprised with the talent that he has to work with.
“They’ve been pleasantly surprising, I don’t know if we have any Doberman pinchers inside right now, but we have some guys with some bite and toughness,” he said. “It’s coming along and developing, game ready yet I don’t know but they’re guys that I think we can definitely win with, we lost some experience inside. Defensive end is where I’m concerned, we’ve got guys with talent and ability but we’re just not very deep there. We’re not deep in experience inside, but we have a couple of more players inside depth wise.”