Second-ranked Clemson went to work right away in its 48-7 victory over Furman in Saturday’s 2018 season opener at Death Valley.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables was extremely pleased with what he saw from his defense on the field as they held the Paladins to just one touchdown and 2.6 yards per play.
“I just loved our attitude coming out of the locker room,” he said afterward. “Just ready to play. We played with passion, energy, very physical. I thought our guys were really excited to play today and we played to our standard.
“We played a bunch of guys. I think 34 guys played today on defense. That’ll pay off and it’s good to reward guys for their work. I was pleased with a lot of guys. Not just one guy, but I think our guys up front set the tone for the day.”
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins led the defense on Saturday with seven tackles, a sack and a tackle-for-loss. Linebacker Isaiah Simmons also performed well on the defensive side with five tackles and a half tackle-for-loss.
Venables is excited about the depth the Tigers have on defense and knows playing so many guys Saturday can only make the team better as a whole.
“It’s gives them confidence and gets their jitters out,” he said. “This is a developmental game and the more they play, the better they are going to get even through failure. They are going to learn.
“There was a lot of good stuff to coach off of. As we continue to develop our depth across the board, this will be a great start for a lot of guys in their careers.”
Although it was looking like Clemson (1-0) might walk away from Death Valley shutting out Furman, the Paladins scored late in the fourth quarter with Clemson’s starters out.
Venables, however, is more concerned with the experience his players are getting rather than a shutout. Clemson played 34 players on the defensive side of the ball in the season opener
“I don’t get too caught up in that,” he said. “I just look at how we’re playing and promote it if you get one. I certainly validate the work it takes to get a shutout.
“But when guys are getting in the game that haven’t taken practice snaps at the particular scheme, it is what it is but I’d rather those guys get an opportunity to play than worry about a shutout.”
The Tigers will now travel to College Station, Texas next week to take on Texas A&M and its new head coach Jimbo Fisher, who spent the previous eight years at Florida State.