When they wrapped up practice this past Wednesday, Clemson’s defensive line broke it down and they broke it down to “base.”
“Base! Base on me! 1-2-3 base!”
Base of course stands for Clemson’s 4-3 base defense, which is geared to accentuate the four-man defensive line. So, having a little fun, Venables told his linebackers, who were right next to the defense line, “Dime! Dime on me! 1-2-3 dime!”
“So, we had some fun with that,” he said.
Clemson’s defense continues to have a lot of fun on game days and Saturday was the most fun it had to date. The Tigers’ limited the Eagles to 177 total yards, the fewest of any opponent this season, in their 59-7 victory at Death Valley. The fun part was the fact they did it playing mostly out of their base 4-3 scheme.
Boston College (4-4, 2-3 ACC) had no answer for Clemson’s defensive front which controlled the line of scrimmage, while holding the ACC’s best rushing offense to 97 yards on 44 carries. AJ Dillon, who leads to the ACC in rushing yards, was held to a season-low 76 yards on 19 carries.
It was a welcome site for a Clemson defensive front that continues to get better, even though it has now played the last two weeks without defensive end Xavier Thomas, who is still under concussion protocol.
“Guys are growing up and getting better and improving,” Venables said. “It is good. That is what we needed to have happen. You have to have a certain level of flexibility about what you do on defense and you always have weaknesses or areas that you have to be better at. Sometimes it is perceived and sometimes it is real.”
The only thing that was real on Saturday was the way the Tigers kept getting after BC.
Clemson (8-0, 6-0 ACC) held the Eagles to 2.2 yards per carry and 2.9 yards per play. Boston College came into Saturday’s game averaging 494.4 yards per game including 278.3 yards per game on the ground.
“I think it is a big deal,” Venables said. “You don’t want to say, ‘Oh check us out!’ Beating our chest. That is not our style, but you also want to recognize our players’ performance and hard work that goes into it.
“‘Hey, man! Good job fellas!’ That is okay every once in a while. But you have to be quick to tell them, ‘You have not done nothing, yet! You don’t get no trophies for holding someone under hundred yards, but good job!’”
But limiting the Eagles and dominating the game the way they did, it was a big deal. The Tigers allowed just 10 first downs all night and held BC to 2 of 15 on third down conversions. They even scored, as defensive end Logan Rudolph picked up a fumble and raced 39 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
“That is who they were, and we were going to have our chance to have an opportunity to do our job and our part on defense to win the game, and not allow them to have that kind of balance. It all starts with their run game, obviously,” Venables said.
And the Tigers started by going back to their base.
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