Finally, Kendrick and the defense get it right

Finally, Kendrick and the defense get it right

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Finally, Kendrick and the defense get it right

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Venables describes how Kendrick’s pick-six has been a long time coming

Derion Kendrick’s 38-yard interception return for a touchdown in No. 2 Clemson’s 45-14 win over Florida State on Saturday has been a long time in the making. A really long time.

In fact, the Tigers have been working on it since the start of preseason camp.

On the play, defensive coordinator Brent Venables called a Cover 2 zone blitz.

Clemson brought linebackers Isaiah Simmons and James Skalski on a blitz from the right side of the formation. Neither was picked up and Seminoles’ quarterback James Blackman was forced to throw the ball earlier than he wanted to. His pass sailed over the head of running back Cam Akers and into the waiting arms of Kendrick, who easily ran the ball untouched into the end zone.

As easily and well executed the Tigers made the play look, it has not looked that way in practice.

This past week, in trying to make sure Kendrick and his teammates played the call right, Venables’ showed them Mark Fields’ 42-yard interception return for a touchdown against Boston College in 2016.

“Just going through film all week, and then having the coaches get on me, it just had me ready for the moment,” Kendrick said.

Venables’ laughed when asked about it in the post-game press conference with the media because he has been getting on Kendrick and his unit all year long about executing the play. There have been times when he has been reluctant to call it during a game.

“It is funny, I have been praising A.J. (Terrell) that we have one corner on this team who can play this scheme,” he said. “This is easily the easiest scheme and logically the most aggressive and yet for some reason we can’t coach it, practice it or drill it, but ‘you guys are just afraid and stink at executing, so I am not going to call it…’

“…I made a big to-do about it. So that was great to see.”

Though Venables was reluctant to call it, he said, “(Kendrick) did his job. That’s what happened.”

“I was reading my keys and I read them well,” Kendrick said. “When I saw the ball release out of his hands, I knew I had it.”

Clemson finished the game with forced four turnovers, three of them interceptions. Kendrick’s house-call was the second one for the defense this season. Safety K’Von Wallace had a 66-yard interception return against Charlotte in Week 4.

For Kendrick it was the first interception of his career, and in way cemented his move from wide receiver to corner back last spring.

“If I don’t play up to my standard, I know I will be pulled out,” he said.

He played up to his standard, and more importantly his defensive coordinator’s standard, on Saturday.

video courtesy of the ACC Digital Network

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