At Dabo Swinney’s Media Golf Outing, both local and national media outlets had the opportunity to pick the brains of Clemson’s position coaches for the only time in the regular season.
This is what we learned from defensive coordinator Brent Venables:
Do you like the depth that is coming in? Are they ready for their opportunity?
“I like some spots. I feel better and more sure with more information at some spots starting at defensive tackle. I think we have more proven players and more guys who have a resume. A few more guys at linebacker than we had a year ago at this time. After that, other than Cordrea Tankersley in the secondary, there is a lot to be found out of course in the next three to four weeks. I think it will be at a few positions like defensive end, potentially safety, and potentially at corner that there’s going to be a growing process. We have numbers, and we have bodies,” Venables said. “What their physical and mental toughness is, I don’t know. You have to earn that through the course of time. It is easy to start off strong in the first day, first week and first month. We proved that last year. We kind of fizzled out a little bit last year. Sustaining success, sustaining intensity, respecting the game and respecting the opponent and the process, that all sounds really good and easy and just do X,Y.Z, but some guys have the discipline to do it and some guys don’t. “
When you have this much turnover versus a team that returns a bunch of starters, does it change the way you coach? Do you have to push these guys harder?
“Every year is different,” Venables said. “As a leader, us as coaches, I think through years of experience, the last thing you want to do is assume anything. You have to start over every year, regardless of the talent and the experience coming back. I think you have to get back to the basics, the fundamentals and the philosophy and what you expect of your guys. How you get to the end result and not jump ahead of ourselves. There are a lot of expectations on this football team, but those are just for everybody else on the outside looking in.”
Who is assuming leadership roles on the defense?
“I love the work the guys have put in. I do think we have some great leadership starting up front with Carlos (Watkins) and Christian (Wilkins) in particular and (Scott) Pagano with some young guys that like to work and Ben Boulware who is very emotionally and physically invested,” Venables said. “I think all are really good leaders and extensions of us. They get it. They understand it.”