By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
CLEMSON — Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables was pretty honest about how his defense has played the first two games of the season.
“There is a lack of consistency in how we play,” he said Tuesday. “It all starts in the run game. Everybody kind of took their turn whether it was a linebacker, a defensive end or a three technique or a box safety.
“We just have to work on getting consistent and get our guys to play with the discipline that it takes to put our eyes in the right place, play with technique and getting lined up in the correct spots, and in a lot of cases it is two or three inches away from where they are.”
And those two or three inches have caused the 11th-ranked Tigers to rank last in the ACC in run defense through two games. Clemson’s defense is yielding 216 yards a game right now, including 252 yards in last Saturday’s 52-27 victory over Ball State.
But Venables also sees improvement. He pointed out that a number of times his players showed the propensity to do what they are supposed to do.
“The key is, they have to do it on every single down,” he said. “Whether you are a one, two or three (team player) you have to come in and you have to be able to execute.”
What Venables did like was his players’ effort as he saw a lot of encouraging and positive things, especially with some of the younger guys that got on the field in the third and fourth quarters.
“We showed a little bit of depth at some spots and in certain situations our guys played really well,” he said.
Twenty-seven of the 40 rushing attempts by Ball State were less than four yards last week. Venables says that proves they can get the job done in the running game. Now the question is can they do it over and over and over again?
“We were there and stuff, but in some instances we just couldn’t make tackles in the backfield,” defensive tackle DeShawn Williams said. “We have to take more pride in stopping the run. If we have that kind of pride, we will be able to do that.”
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday that this week’s matchup with Furman will be a good test to see if the defense is improving. The Paladins are a run-first kind of offense and he feels they have enough talent to challenge Clemson’s run defense.
“I want to see us get better there,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this matchup. It will be a good test.”
Clemson has shown in short-yardage situations that it has done a good job in stuffing the run, but it comes back to what Clemson is doing more than what its opponents have done.
“We are just inconsistent,” Williams said. “We have to be consisted in everything we do. We need to play like it is the last play on every run. That’s what we wanted to establish this year. We wanted to stop the run, and that’s what we are going to have to do this week.”