When they went against guys like Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Bryant and that Clemson defense every day in practice, it was just a matter of time before the offense got things clicking.
Sure, it did not look good at first, but playing against one of the best defenses in the country every day was bound to pay off at some point. And it did.
Clemson had one of the more prolific offenses in the country in 2018 on its way to winning its second national championship in three years. The Tigers averaged school records with 44.3 points and 527.2 yards per game with a freshman quarterback, a sophomore running back and sophomore and freshmen wide receivers.
This year, the role has flipped. In the spring, it was Clemson’s more experienced offense that won most of the battles now that guys like Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross are more experienced players.
On defense, the Tigers had to replace its entire defensive front and two starters at linebacker as well as its best cornerback. There was a lot of growing up to do on the practice field in the spring.
“We got beat up pretty good this spring … big brother, little brother,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said.
But the defense also got better because of it. Just like last year when Clemson’s offense went up against that great defense every day in practice, this year the defense is not going to face a better offense than what they will see on the practice fields behind the Allen Reeves Football Complex in Clemson.
“No, our guys held their own. They did well,” Venables said. “The offense is going to help us get better quickly. You have to show up every day or you will get embarrassed. They have a mature and physical mentality about them. I think that they strain our front and our front seven.
“Again, you have to grow up quickly or practice is not going to be a lot of fun. So, there is no question they will make us better and they have up to this point.”