For a whole year, all Clemson’s defense heard was how Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond threw the football all over the field on them in last year’s game at Kyle Field in College Station. All they heard was how good Mond was and how the Tigers had no answer for him.
Well, the Tigers had plenty of answers on Saturday at Clemson’s Death Valley.
Brent Venables’ schemed up Mond and the Aggies’ offense as well as anyone has, holding the gunslinger to 24-of-42 passing for 236 yards, while No.12 A&M ran for just 53 yards in the top-ranked Tigers’ 24-10 victory.
“We did a tremendous job of being well-positioned, and we made great plays on the ball,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “A.J. [Terrell] was tremendous. Nolan [Turner] missed a tackle in the first half but came back from that and made some great plays on the ball. [Tanner] Muse got another interception.
“Structurally, we did some great things. We did a nice job, assignment-wise. We put pressure on the ball. Our guys up front were ready for the challenge. They’re having fun playing defense.”
They had a lot of fun.
Clemson (2-0) held the Aggies to 289 yards and forced two turnovers, both were charged to Mond. He fumbled while scrambling in the second quarter and was intercepted by Tanner Muse in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers held A&M (1-1) to three points up until the Aggies got a cheap touchdown with six seconds to play in the game.
“That might have been our first bust where there was a missed assignment,” Venables said. “I’m proud of our guys. They really had a great performance. They played with a great focus, passion and sense of desperation.”
They also played with a great scheme. The Tigers came out in a bear-front for much of the game and played with a dime package on the back end. They seldom brought pressure and when they did they disguised their blitzes with the safety or the corner coming free.
“We are a pretty flexible defense. We always have some different things here and there to prepare for an opponent,” said Turner, who forced the fumble on Mond in the second quarter. “We were just playing good coverage and keeping him uncomfortable.
“We were just making plays.”
And they were confusing Mond.
“We had some tweaks here and there and our defense played a lot of dime. I just tried to spread it out and give them a different look,” Turner said.
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