Kendall Joseph admits the Clemson defense has not played with the energy it needs to bring to practice. It is one reason, the rising senior says, the Tigers have not played well this spring on the defensive side of the ball.
However, it is not the only reason.
“We have had our good days and our bad days,” the linebacker said following Friday’s practice behind the Allen Reeves Football Complex. “I don’t think it has been energy, though there have been some days when we should have brought more energy.
“More so, it is just the fundamentals and the details. We are playing some talented guys and when we do not have the details down, if we do one small thing wrong, they exploit us and that is what has been happening.”
That explains why the Clemson offense had the most touchdowns and big plays in a scrimmage in a long, long time according to head coach Dabo Swinney.
In last week’s second scrimmage of the spring, the defense allowed eight plays of 20-plus yards and gave up seven touchdown passes. This past Wednesday, though it played better, it still gave up some big plays, including a 43-yard touchdown run by running back Travis Etienne on a fourth-and-three play.
“We are playing some (great players), but that is no excuse for us,” Joseph said. “We know our standard and we have a long way to go to prove that, but we will get there.”
Though the linebacking corps has a ton of experience back this coming season, Joseph says there have been too many mistakes in practice. He feels there are times when it just seems like they don’t care about the mistakes they are making, though he knows that is not the case.
“We have to have the intensity every day and we have to care about our mistakes, learn from them and get better,” he said. “Really, it is about having that edge every day and getting those details down.
“We have a lot more experience, but we still have a long way to go. Like Coach (Brent Venables) was talking to us, we are making too many mistakes for as much as experience that we have. So we have to clean a lot of things up, but as far as the guys we have in our group, we care. There has not been a better one. We have a bunch of workers, so we will get it right.”