While Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz likes to hand his players the now famous “Turnover Chain” every time a Hurricane player forces a turnover, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables has his own way of honoring his players for a job well done.
“He gives a high five,” Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence said while laughing on Monday.
That’s right there is nothing fancy about what the top-ranked Tigers do to give the football back to their offense. They just do what they can to get off the field.
“We put a lot of emphasis on it,” Lawrence said. “Earlier in the season we were not getting as many turnovers, but now we are just putting a bigger emphasis on turnovers and creating field position for the offensive team and stuff like that.”
Clemson (11-1) has done a better job lately creating more turnovers. In the first eight games of the season, the Tigers had just eight takeaways. In the last four games, the defense has forced eight turnovers, two in each game.
And though the Tigers don’t have as many forced turnovers as Miami, who leads the nation with 29, they are doing something with them when they to create them.
Clemson is one of the top teams in the country in terms of scoring non-offensive touchdowns. So far this year, the defense has turned four turnovers directly into touchdowns, the most since 1990 when that Tiger defense had five touchdowns – the most in school history.
But as great as turnovers are, there are other exciting ways to get off the field, too. Clemson gets just as hyped about forcing three-and-outs as it does about creating a turnover.
The Tigers are second in the ACC and sixth nationally when it comes to third-down defense. Opponents are converting just 28.6 percent of their third downs against the Clemson defense.
Since Venables came to Clemson in 2012, Clemson has been one of the top teams in the country, year in and year out, when it comes to three-and-outs.
“Oh yeah, we love those,” Lawrence said. “Just getting the off the field and getting the offense back on the field and keeping them hot because once they get going, they get going.
“That is what we emphasis a lot. Getting off the field and keeping the plays as short as possible.”
But don’t get Clemson wrong, its players love what the Hurricanes (11-1) have done with the Turnover Chain, but it is just not their style.
“We are not that fancy, but I like the Turnover Chain,” Lawrence said. “It is pretty cool for them. If that is how you get your guys going, that is what you do.”
“That does not really matter to us,” defensive end Austin Bryant said. “It is cool that they have it. It helps them play well, I guess.
“I don’t think we need anything like that around here to create turnovers or to make turnovers a priority every week. That is something we harp on around here, but we just don’t have the flash of the chain on Saturdays.”
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who has been known for his on the field antics, says the Turnover Chain is a good incentive to get turnovers. However, he does not want to see it on Saturday.
“It’s pretty good for them and all that, but we hope they don’t have many turnover chains this weekend going into the game,” he said. “We want to make sure they keep those locked up somewhere. But they’ve done a good job creating turnovers all year and everything like that, but hopefully we’re the team that comes out with more forced turnovers by the end of the game.”
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