After second-ranked Clemson made Saturday’s victory over Furman look easy at Death Valley, a much bigger challenge stands in the way of the Tigers as they head to College Station, Texas to take on Texas A&M this coming Saturday.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is pleased with the work his defense did this past Saturday as they held Furman to just to just one touchdown and 2.6 yards per play and 163 total yards.
“The most pleasing thing was just being excited to play,” Venables said on Monday. “You would think that’s going to be the case, but you never take it for granted. It’s easy to get excited to play certain teams and then hopefully guys love to play.
“That’s what shows up and I think that is what showed up right from the very first snap. So again our intensity, our passion, our focus, was there along with the excitement to play.”
Venables feels there is still a lot of work to be done, but thinks the defense came out to a great start on Saturday.
“Overall, I thought our positioning was really good. We tackled fairly well. There are a lot of things we’ll need to correct and play better when we play other option teams, but again, it was a really good start.
“We got to play a lot of guys and when they got in for the most part they played well. So that’s good for morale and experience, developing depth, all of those things.”
The Tigers will be seeing a familiar face this Saturday as Jimbo Fisher, who was previously the head coach of Atlantic Division rival Florida State for eight years, is now in his first season as the Aggies’ head coach.
“It doesn’t hurt (to go against a familiar coach) but you still have to go out and play well and execute and it really matters what your players know. But there’s some familiarity on both sides. So it can be negated to a certain degree. I’d rather have a little bit of background for sure.”
Although the Tigers are coming into the game as a double-digit favorite, Venables knows Texas A&M is a talented team that is not be overlooked. Their atmosphere and capacity of Kyle Field, which holds over 100,000 is enough to overtake any team.
“In 1996, that was my first time (at College Station) with Kanas State and it’s a very difficult place to play,” Venables said. “Their fans are engaged from beginning to the end, very well prepared. There’s a lot of pageantry with the military. Their fans do a great job of staying on que.
“They put a lot of people in there, very passionate fan base and prideful fan base. We’ve been in a lot of tough environments and this will be another one. As much as anything you have to be able to have poise and the focus to be able to not get distracted because there’s a lot going on outside of the field itself.”