Clemson defense has to start playing better

Clemson defense has to start playing better

Football

Clemson defense has to start playing better

Venables says the entire unit needs to do its job

In Wednesday’s scrimmage, Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott called a play where his wide receivers ran vertical routes down field and then slipped running back Tavien Feaster out of the backfield.

The corners of course went with their guys, while the safeties ran back too. However, no one picked up Feaster coming out of the backfield and the running back caught the ball and went for a touchdown. It was a blown assignment in coverage, an assignment that had defensive coordinator Brent Venables very uneasy when he spoke to the media.

“When the back runs out into the flat from the backfield, you don’t run up the field,” Venables said. “Mentality, knowledge, intelligence, whatever you want to use, use whatever you want. You got to play better than that. You have to play consistent and do your job.”

No one on defense did their job well in the 91-play scrimmage last Wednesday in Death Valley as the offense racked up seven touchdown passes and ran for a couple of more scores. It also recorded eight plays of 20 yards or more.

It was not the kind of day Venables envisioned for a unit that returns nine starters from a defense that ranked second in the country in scoring defense and fourth in total defense in 2017.

“It is a little bit of everything,” Venables said. “Coaches have to be responsible for it first. Guys have to leave that meeting room with the right kind of edge and mentality. That is our job to get them ready to play.

“They have to take ownership in it, too. There are too many mistakes. Physical mistakes, mental mistakes, just not the right edge and focus … You jump offside and a guy just stops on the back end. The play did not stop. The receiver did not stop. The quarterback did not stop, so it was stuff like that, man.”

Venables did not think his defense played with the maturity it needed to play with in the scrimmage.

“It just takes one guy here or there,” he said. “All three units you run out there … that’s your defense. It’s not like you just say ‘the D-Line played good and they didn’t.’ Your unit suffers. The backers did not play well, but the DBs did.

“This is not DLU! This is the Clemson defense. Whoever runs out there on that field (Death Valley), the practice field or goes in that weight room, that is are unit. Guys are like, ‘Oh, we did our thing!’ That is not how it works. I wish it did.”

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