At this point it is no secret that the Clemson defense got exposed in the secondary last Saturday in College Station. Texas A&M gashed the Tigers late in the game, passing for 206 yards in a 13-point fourth quarter while amassing 501 yards of total offense on the day.
In the end, the same secondary made big plays to seal the game as K’Von Wallace forced a fumble out of the end zone for a touchback, and also intercepted a two-point conversion attempt, putting second-ranked Clemson’s 28-26 win on ice.
Senior JD Davis knows his defense struggled late in the game Saturday night and that there is plenty of room for improvement, but he is not sounding the alarm quite yet after the second game of the 2018 campaign.
“There is a lot of stuff we can fix. It’s only the second game of the season, so nothing to be too worried about as long as we get it corrected moving forward,” Davis said. “It’s tough though because you pride yourself in not giving up that many yards but it’s good. We will fix it.”
Davis came in off the bench Saturday, racking up three tackles including a tackle for a loss of three yards.
The linebacker knows the fault is not completely on the secondary and that his unit did not always live up to expectations in the game, but feels the defense will grow from the experience.
“When I mess up, get exposed and get chewed for it I’m not likely to forget it,” he said. “I think it will be the same way with our secondary and they won’t forget their failures, but some of it is on us linebackers too. We all as a defense will remember this experience and let it help us going forward.”
Weather permitting, Clemson will take the field Saturday when it hosts Georgia Southern out of the Sun Belt Conference. The Eagles still run their typical triple-option threat which is arguably the Tiger defense’s favorite offensive scheme in recent years.
In its last three matchups with the triple-option (Georgia Tech, 2016; Georgia Tech, 2017; Citadel, 2017) the Clemson defense has allowed a measly 20 points with those opponents averaging 190 yards total offense.
Davis received notice early in the week that he is a captain for Saturday’s game against the Eagles and glowed while speaking to the media about the opportunity at Tuesday’s weekly media availability.
“I take it very seriously,” he said. “It is a huge honor and I’ve worked for four years for this team and to be named a captain means a lot to me.”
The only concern for the senior linebacker was if he will still get to run down the hill despite what will likely be wet conditions.
“Swinney said yesterday there actually is a way that we can run down the hill, so if we couldn’t then I don’t know because I only have a few of those left,” Davis said. “If I couldn’t I probably would have said can I run down the hill instead.”
Due to the threat of inclement weather from Hurricane Florence, kickoff has been moved up to noon in Memorial Stadium as Clemson plays its first-ever matchup with Georgia Southern.