Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables has seen some progress in some of his younger defensive players like safety Isaiah Simmons, linebacker Shaq Smith and defensive end Xavier Kelly, but he also knows they still have a lot of growing up to do.
The good news, he says, is there is a lot of time between now and next fall for them to grow up.
“It is not necessarily maturity, though some of it is maturity, but the maturation process is exactly that. It is a process,” Venables said. “We are not ready to line up and play against Kent State, yet, with those guys. I’m talking about dominating somebody. But I like how we are working and I think the physical tools are there, but we still have a lot to learn.”
Venables young defensive players have just seven practices remaining in the spring when they get back from spring break next Monday. Then after that it is off to summer workouts and then fall camp, and before they know it they’ll be lining up for the kickoff on Sept. 2 against Kent State in Death Valley.
“There is only so much time in a day and you can only get so much done in a day,” Venables said. “Where we are at right now and our install schedule, we are really trying to focus on getting our guys to know how to prepare and know how to watch film. We are teaching them to know how to line up and put their hand in the dirt, stand in the alignment of the assignment, get the discipline that it takes to play well, trust in their keys, their job and those things.”
Venables uses the spring to put pressure on the younger players to see how they will respond. He does not slow down what he is doing. He keeps the pace the same and he expects them to adjust to him, not the other way around.
“We are installing at a fairly rapid pace,” he said. “We are trying to challenge and stress guys constantly to help them grow faster than we normally want to and to see who can handle it and who can’t. Our (evaluations) are nonstop and there are no proclamations being made on anybody yet.”
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