Clemson defense turns up the intensity

Clemson defense turns up the intensity

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Clemson defense turns up the intensity

WINSTON SALEM, N.C. — Fourth-ranked Clemson dominated Wake Forest in every facet of the game Saturday cruising to a 63-3 victory, the largest margin of victory against an ACC opponent in school history.

Early when Clemson struggled to move the ball offensively the defense filled the gap and continued to give their counterparts opportunities. The Tigers stunted the Demon Deacon offense holding them to 249 yards total offense and just 3.2 yards per play.

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables was pleased with the way his defense played and attributes much of it to the week of practice his team had in advance of the game.

“We had our best week of practice and we don’t pat our guys on the back often, but on Thursday and Friday we started to think we’d play well because how clean, precise, intense and focus we had been in practice,” Venables said afterward. “It was pleasing to see that show up here today because going on the road is hard and so is winning.”

The Tigers (6-0, 3-0 ACC) set the tone early, Tre Lamar came up with a sack on the first drive and finished the game with a pair of sacks while leading the team in tackles with eight. He impressed Venables with the way he rallied to tackles and stopped the Demon Deacon surge after initial contact.

“Very disruptive and tackled strong, what Wake does well is mushing you for another four or five yards after initial contact,” Venables said. “We had a big emphasis on first contact and our guys really did a good job and Tre on the second level was big for us.”

Entering the game, Wake Forest had moved the ball well offensively on the season utilizing sophomore Greg Dortch, who entered the game with 44 catches for 528 yards on the season. Saturday, he touched the ball three times for 37 yards.

Venables attributed the change to the way Isaiah Simmons stepped up and covered downfield.

“Isaiah Simmons did a great job in coverage. Dorch is a good player so there were some things we had to do scheme wise to limit his opportunities to touch the football,” the Clemson coach said. “Isaiah did a really good job trying to cover him up and played possibly his best game from a coverage standpoint.”

Clemson’s defense is in a rhythm entering its bye week and Venables thinks the Tigers are warming up at the right time, but he knows it is time to take the next step in order to compete for championships.

“We’re starting to get into a rhythm, . . . sometimes it takes a while to develop and this is a great example of developing a team and our days are counting down,” he said. “In order to be a team that competes for a league championship everybody has to turn up the intensity and commitment.”

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