Since 2014, the year Clemson led the nation in total defense, the Tigers have been ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense every season.
It is no coincidence Clemson’s rise as one of the country’s top programs has come during this same stretch. The Tigers are one of the more well-balanced teams year in and year out in college football.
Last year, Clemson led the nation in scoring defense and ranked fourth in average total yards allowed. On offense, it ranked fifth in scoring offense and third in total offense.
This combination has made the Tigers almost impossible to stop and equally as hard to move the football against.
On the defensive side of the football, the Tigers have been ranked in the top 25 both in scoring defense and average yards allowed in each season since 2013. They’ve been ranked in the top 10 nationally in both categories in each of the last three years and in four of the last five.
“I think it all comes into our preparation,” Clemson safety Tanner Muse said. “We prepare so hard. Coach (Brent) Venables makes sure we’re in there. We go a little overtime sometimes.”
Venables of course in the mastermind behind it all. There’s a reason why the Tigers’ defensive coordinator is the second-highest paid assistant coach in college football, making more than $2 million a year.
Venables’ scheme brings constant pressure, coming from everywhere. His schemes are one of the more complicated ones in college football with shifting and stunting front four, along with a zone-blitz scheme behind it that creates matchup problems and forces quarterbacks into quick decisions.
Clemson led the nation last in year in sacks and tackles for loss and since 2013 has ranked in the top 5 in both categories.
“You know, it’s all worth it at the end of the day. I think our preparation is top tier in the nation,” Muse said. “The amount of film we watch all summertime, springtime and now, getting into the season I think is what really sets us ahead of others.”
And is why Clemson is one of the country’s premiere programs and why the Tigers are always a serious national title contender, even on a year when they return just four starters on defense.
As everyone knows, Clemson has to replace its entire front four in All-Americans Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant. It also lost two of its three starters at linebacker in Kendall Joseph and Tre Lamar, while also losing cornerback Trayvon Mullen.
“That’s really important for the team to see somebody step up and say something for the team,” Muse said. “That’s what we really need as a defense. I’m going to do the best that I can. I know we have a lot of other guys on our defensive eleven that step up.
“K’Von (Wallace), Isaiah (Simmons), A.J. (Terrell), and a few other guys that I’m missing. We all got to work as a team and as a defense to really be vocal, to lead these young guys to another successful season.”