Clemson defense staying strong while building depth

Clemson defense staying strong while building depth


Clemson defense staying strong while building depth


No school in the country builds as much depth as Clemson.

Last week, the top-ranked Tigers played a record 111 players in their blowout victory against Charlotte. In all, 41 of those players came on the defensive side of the football.

It’s a hard balance for any coach to have because they want to make sure their starters get enough plays in so they can continue to get better, while also making sure the second- and third-team players are getting enough meaningful snaps to so they can develop.

Clemson, who is visits North Carolina on Saturday (3:30 p.m.), is trying to build its depth, especially on a defensive unit that is already playing a lot of young players on the defensive line and at linebacker.

“I think we did that. We rotated a little bit on our side of the ball with our ones and twos in the first half,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “It was 38-3 at halftime and I think we played a bunch of our, not all, ones on that first drive in the second half. I don’t think we got too aggressive with our substitutes.

“So, I thought that they got the work that they needed to get in.”

The Tigers (4-0, 2-0 ACC) held Charlotte to 135 total yards in the first half. The 49ers threw for just 20 yards, while completing just 3-of-12 passes. Safety K’Von Wallace picked off one of those passes and ran it back 66 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

“It is a long season and you are going to have some injuries, so you have to develop your team,” Venables said. “So, they have to play meaningful situations, too.”

Charlotte, who was averaging 522 total yards and 47.3 points per game coming in, scored just 10 points and finished the afternoon with 216 yards. Even though the Tigers played 30 second-, third- and fourth-team players in the second half, the 49ers totaled just 81 yards in the second half despite playing most of their starters.

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