The Clemson defense has been turning heads so far with its play through the first two games, despite having so many new faces.
The top-ranked Tigers head into next Saturday’s game against Virginia allowing just 246.0 yards and 6.5 points per game, both good enough for fifth and fourth in the country. However, their pass defense has been a little inconsistent, though they do ranked 17th nationally against the pass.
Clemson’s youth has a lot to do with some of its struggles on the backend of the defense, which it has shown at times, though opponents are completing just 44.9 percent of their passes.
“These first two games, I think both of these offenses have kind of been triple-option like obviously, The Citadel was and Wake Forest just creates a lot of one-on-one situations that forces you to bring another safety in the box and forces you to play a lot of man, one-on-one situations,” safety Nolan Turner said. “I’ve been impressed to see this group go out there and make plays and have discipline within a tough scheme. It forces you to go out there and just play well and I’ve been impressed with the young safeties and the young corners and guys just going out there, flying around, and making plays.”
The way the young secondary has shown up and the physicality they bring to the table is what will make them something special this season.
“I haven’t seen anyone shy away from contact out of this group,” Turner said. “They like to bring it, Jo [Charleston], Lannden [Zanders], Ray [Thornton], Tyler [Venables], R.J. [Mickens], you know everybody, so it’s been fun to watch. It’s a physical group and we’ve seen it in camp, we’ve seen it out at practice, seen it in their first games last year, and then showing up in these first two games. Also, Jo, in the first game, had a good pop on that Wake Forest tight end. Ray had a couple big hits Saturday night, so they brought that physicalness out to the field.”
With teammates like these by his side, Turner is looking forward to the rest of the season and how this young safety group will continue showing up and making big plays on the field, despite their youth.
“They’re young guys, but they don’t really play young. They’ve come out and shown up and they’re fun to watch, bring a lot of energy and they made some big plays, so it’s fun to see,” he said.