When Clemson wrapped up its first scrimmage of the spring, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said the secondary’s performance made him want to puke. As the spring went along, Venables was not too encouraging that things were getting better.
However, hearing what their defensive coordinator said about them did not seem to shake up guys like Trayvon Mullen, Mark Fields or K’Von Wallace too much.
“We just bite our tongue,” Wallace said smiling. “We respect him like he respects us. We know he is not going to come out and disrespect us. We just listen to him and take it as it is.”
Wallace sees Venables as a father that just wants the best for his sons so they know he only has their best interest at heart.
“It is part of being a family,” the junior said. “He loves me like I love him.”
What people don’t realize is that Venables is always hard on the secondary. Though the Tigers led the ACC in pass defense and finished fourth nationally, Venables was just as hard on them and was pushing them the whole time.
“He has been hard on us, but he has always been hard on us,” Wallace said. “That is just who he is. He is never satisfied and we are not either. We take it and we run with it.”
The secondary uses it has motivation, and it works. Though Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers had their big plays in the spring game last month, the defensive secondary held its own as well.
“I believe we always have that sense of urgency no matter who is back there,” Wallace said. “It is a little more intense and stuff, especially for the plays that have been made, but we will be fine.”
Clemson’s defensive backs picked off four passes, including one by Wallace, who had a 46-yard return. Mullen had two interceptions, one he returned 84 yards for a touchdown, while A.J. Terrell had the fourth interception.
“We are only getting better. We are learning,” Wallace said. “This is a new team. We are learning to play with each other and things of that nature so we will be perfectly fine.”
Wallace is doing his part by trying to become one of the new leaders on the backend. With Ryan Carter graduated and Van Smith now in the NFL, Wallace knows he has to pick things up as one of the veteran players and become more of a leader.
“I’m just trying to lead the young guys and talking to them,” he said. “I’m trying to be more vocal and teach others what they need to do. I feel like I was made for this position, to be a vocal leader and to teach and to learn from other guys. By teaching them, it helps me to be a leader and helps lead this team to a championship.”