Coming into Saturday on an 18-game winning streak, Clemson is ready to take on a Charlotte team back at Death Valley.
Yet, Clemson’s defense is preparing for a possible wild card performance by first-year Coach Will Healy’s 49ers’ offense. Charlotte has averaged 47.3 points in the first three games this season. Venables touched on what he and the team are doing to prepare, the key ingredients to winning, and the leaders he’s made along with those in the making.
Venables on what it takes to win
“I think attitude, belief, confidence, those three things… just to be a good competitor in anything… I think those are great qualities and traits to have. Having the right kind of attitude, it’s the mindset. It’s got to come to attitude as opposed to ‘Ah man, they’ve got the ball down here, they’re going to score. It’s easy points.’ And then the belief, be patient and play it one play at a time, you can have success. It takes a lot of toughness and courage to do that too.”
Venables on what to expect from the Charlotte 49ers
“They’re a spread based tempo offense. You want to run the ball. They give you a bunch of personnel groups. They’re going to divide the field, a lot of eye candy pre-snap. Shifts, motions, end overs, tackle overs. They’ve got really good running backs, a good quarterback…he’s athletic, throws the ball with good touch and accuracy. He can run around. They’ve designed quarterback run game. They have good receivers. No. 1 (Micaleous Elder) is a really good player. The running back has excellent instincts. He’s strong, powerful. He looks like Maurice Jones Drew…stocky, good balance, good explosion, great instincts, runs through a lot of arm tackles. They’ve got some good players and staff’s put them in a good position to be successful. They’ll attack you interiorly in the inside zone They’ll get outside and run their jet sweeps, stretches, power counter toss, all of those things. They’ve got all the tricks to go along with everything. We’ve got to really do a great job this week with our discipline, gap integrity, option principles, Wing-T principles.”
Venables on the leaders he lost in the 2018-19 season and leadership
“We lost a lot of great leadership…great leadership. Trayvon Mullen was a great leader in the secondary…then Trey and Kendall (Joseph), J.D. and Judah (Davis), and Jalen (Williams). There’s five guys and then Shaq (Smith) was a really good leader. Shaq was a guy that hadn’t played, our best leader for a guy that hadn’t played as much. He just had a lot of respect. There are six linebackers you’ve lost. Then again, you lost not only the foursome, but then you lost (Albert Huggins). You know, a guy like Chris Register was a well-respected guy that brings know-how and experience and things like that, and ownership. That’s a lot of what leadership is. It’s, ‘I’ve paid the price. I don’t want a real small little sliver over here and this matters to me. It matters what you do and your attitude, and so forth.’ Some guys have bigger roles on the field so you feel like there’s more of a leadership, but everybody can contribute leadership. To see that group of guys really come into their own, and I’m talking about the returning guys on the secondary, I’m talking about Isaiah (Simmons), Chad (Smith), and Jamie (James Skalski) in particular being good leaders. We took it from that foursome and those backers and now it’s kind of transformed that back seven as a whole providing a lot of good leadership.”
Venables on Isaiah Simmons
“He’s a very dynamic player. He has the chance to be a great player. He gives you a lot of versatility. He’s long. He’s athletic. His football IQ has really improved and now we’re still just polishing and working to clean up fundamentals and techniques and things of that nature to help him become a great player. His work ethic is terrific. I think he took more snaps than anybody on the team in the game, so he has a lot of durability as well. With his role in special teams and with his role as a player, you can do a lot of things with him.”
Venables on making his game plan
“Yeah. There’s strain involved, and you enjoy that part until you get it worked out. You’ve got to get everybody staff-wise to collaborate and do it together. You’ve got to get your players to be able to understand what you need to do in order to win. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but you have to give your players their best chance to be successful. There’s enjoyment, especially when it works. But that’s a daily challenge, it’s a way to be competitive as a person. I get to come work and be competitive every day. If you really feel like you didn’t do a good job today, you’re going to fail. That’s a good motivator in itself.”
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