There’s no need for Clemson’s defense to ‘circle the wagons’

There’s no need for Clemson’s defense to ‘circle the wagons’


There’s no need for Clemson’s defense to ‘circle the wagons’


Venables liked the way his unit responded, learned from adversity during the UNC game

There were times during their careers when Clelin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins would rally the troops after a tough game to make sure the events that led to a loss or a near defeat did not happen again. So, after Clemson’s one-point victory at North Carolina on Sept. 28, who stepped up to lead the unit this time.

“After a game like North Carolina, I don’t know,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “There was no circling the wagon for us. We could have been better in a lot of spots, but I think that is totaling discrediting what North Carolina did, and then again, I am proud of our guys and the way they fought and made plays.”

Venables admits the defense made enough mistakes to lose the game in Chapel Hill, but he included himself as an example, too.

“I put them in a bad call on third-and-short, so that isn’t their fault, that’s my fault,” he said.

However, Venables admitted there were mistakes like A.J. Terrell staring in the backfield in man-to-man coverage and not expecting quarterback Sam Howell to throw the football his way. The result of that was a 40-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game.

However, Venables explained his players did not need to see how they would respond after the game because he felt like they did that during the game, and as a coach that is what he wanted to see. It is not about what happens because things are going to happen.

“So, we did not need anybody to have to say anything,” he said. “They knew, and we have enough awareness. We don’t have our head in the sand as coaches and certainly don’t as players. It is a long season. We have improvement to make. We said it going into the game and we will say it after, the same thing.”

The areas Venables wants to see his team improve is in critical situations like how they lost leverage and did not do a good job of getting their hands up on the last drive of the game, especially in some critical situations.

“We stopped them on third down, but we did not stop them on fourth down a couple of times,” he said. “Again, we have to be better and be more precise with our alignments, understanding the down and distance and an awareness to what the offense gives you in these situations, so we can get off the field and there is no touchdown and there is two-point conversion. We don’t get to that.”

Those are the things the defense is focused on and worked on during last week’s open date. Venables said it would have been the same thing had guys like Wilkins and Ferrell still been at Clemson.

“There was a lot more good than there was bad (in the UNC game), and there was certainly some bad,” he said. “But our guys responded within the game. I hated the last drive after we had really done a nice job of responding after the first quarter. We really got settled in and we were playing well in the second half and then we give up a 16-play drive.”

However, the defense responded to that as well by standing tall and not allowing the Tar Heels to convert the 2-point play when it mattered the most.

“You have to play the story within the story,” Venables said. “It is just not 16 plays and they had their way. We had plenty of opportunities within the drive to get off the field, so you have to learn from that.”

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