On a day that marks the end of the tenure of his chief rival’s head coach, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables took some time to speak about the career of Steve Spurrier, who officially resigned his post at South Carolina on Monday following a 2-4 start to the 2015 season.
Venables described Spurrier as “a Hall of Fame coach with a well-deserved, incredibly successful career” and reflected on the experience of facing the Head Ball Coach during his time at Clemson.
“He’s just smart,” Venables said. “He puts his players at a competitive advantage. He has answers to what you’re doing, and his guys understand those answers. They play with an edge, kind of a go-for-broke attitude.”
Venables coordinated three defenses that faced off against Spurrier from 2012 until 2014. The Tigers were 1-2 in those contests with varying degrees of success.
Over those three games, Spurrier’s offense averaged 367 yards per game and scored an average of 25 points per game. The high point came in 2013, when the Gamecocks gained 444 yards in a 31-17 win over the Tigers, but Venables has responded with back-to-back solid showings against Spurrier’s attack in the last two meetings.
Venables prides himself in his ability to teach the game in a way that is relatable to his players, and he sees that quality in Spurrier, as well. He also sees a coach committed to having a complete offense that can win in multiple ways.
“Obviously, his ability to coach quarterbacks and run offense and understand defense, he does a great job as a teacher in putting it in its purest and simplest form,” Venables said. “People think that he’s always been a guy that wants to throw the ball all over the place, but the run game is something that’s always been a huge part of his success offensively. He’s somebody that’s always hung his hat on that run game complementing his offense.”
Venables’ first boss as a coordinator was Bob Stoops, who ran Spurrier’s defense at Florida for three seasons before heading to Norman to become the head coach at Oklahoma. Stoops brought some of Spurrier’s offensive philosophies to the Big 12 and helped spread that creation to a college football world that now routinely sees those elements present in programs all over the spectrum.
“He was doing the spread before everybody else, but I think they called it the ‘fun-and-gun,’” Venables said. “Boy, he did it better than anybody. I think they said he’s never had a losing season in his coaching career. He’s always been somebody that people respected.”
Venables is a thoughtful man, but he also is unafraid to share his thoughts. Spurrier is very much the same way, calculating in his ability to speak his mind at just the right time.
“He says what you’re thinking, and that’s refreshing,” Venables said. “He’s a winner. He’s a proven winner, obviously. Who doesn’t respect that?”