The Clemson defense flipped the narrative early this season.
Throughout the off-season talking heads questioned the top-ranked Tigers’ ability to restock after losing several players off of the 2018 unit. They thought the star-studded offense would carry the team for several weeks until younger players found their footing.
After three weeks of football the Clemson defense ranks high in nearly every category. The Tigers have been dominate in the red zone, keep opposing quarterbacks on the run and keep teams out of the end zone.
Junior linebacker James Skalski takes a lot of pride in his defense’s success and never doubted what has transpired so far despite losing key players from last year’s national championship team.
“We know the kind of guys we have on this team and what kind of players are on this team,” Skalski said. “We have a desire to be a good defense and play consistently. We’ve been putting that together each week and want to continue to do that.”
Skalski credits defensive coordinator Brent Venables as a mastermind who has been doing this for his entire career. Venables habitually restocks talented groups and embraces the program mantra of “no drop off” which is on full display for the Tiger defense thus far in 2019.
In the off-season the coaches said the young talent on the defensive side of the ball still needed diaper changing, but now with a small sample size they are settling in with their own identity.
“I know Coach Venables, from week one to the rest of the season he would have us ready,” Skalski said. “I never really thought maybe we’ll just have to come along.”
“When he puts us out there, we are ready to play and never thought it’ll take a couple weeks to unfold. From the get go we were trying to execute a game plan,” he continued.
A lot of football remains to be played and Skalski knows there is room for improvement, but with Venables at the helm and a wealth of young talent on the line and veterans in the secondary, Clemson is in good hands.
The Tigers host Charlotte (2-1) out of Conference USA at 7:30 pm Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
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