Clemson’s defense will look a lot different as they run down the hill in two weeks for their Thursday night opener at Memorial Stadium against Georgia Tech.
After losing virtually all of the front seven, younger players have worked to cement themselves into starting roles as the Tigers prepare to defend their third national title.
On Thursday, Clemson held its second and final full scrimmage of fall camp. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables has seen tremendous progress since the spring in his unit, but the Tigers have a lot of room to grow before things get cranked up to full speed on Aug. 29.
“We have a lot to get better at and are not a great unit on any part yet, but hopefully we will be,” Venables said afterward. “There is definitely enough buy in, but immaturity is a problem.”
However, Venables is pleased with the growth he has seen particularly among those competing for starting positions just about everywhere on the defense.
“Our first group has gotten better, that may be six or eight guys who have made improvement since starting camp,” Venables said. “We still need to make improvement over the next couple of weeks.”
Venables has seen plenty of quick growth since feeling like the young Tigers had a long way to go back in the spring. He is also encouraged by the positive attitude and eagerness to improve on his defense.
The defensive coordinator also has plenty of experience in restocking Clemson defenses in 2015 and ’16, when it had major losses in personnel from the year before.
“We have all been here before, but it’s exciting because they are a hungry group of guys,” Venables said. “You just have to run them into things, you have to run them into a wall and make sure they like it.”
Like always Venables will have a solid defense ready to go on game day, but right now the Tigers are working on growing depth and getting everybody healthy.
Currently Derion Kendrick, Baylon Spector and Jake Venables, all hamstring injuries, have been banged up during camp, but none are expected to miss significant time.
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