Top-ranked Clemson struggled at times in its 41-23 win over Virginia on Saturday.
The Cavaliers racked up 417 yards of total offense, the most total yards allowed by a Tiger defense in an ACC game since October 13, 2017 in a loss to Syracuse.
Clemson had issues containing Wahoos’ quarterback Brennan Armstrong and gave up chunk plays down field. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables was disappointed at the uncharacteristic inconsistency by his unit.
“The game was very similar to last year when they scored 17 against us in the ACC Championship and it felt like we couldn’t stop them all day, felt like we were on our heels,” Venables said. “At the end of the first half they ran three plays and got a touchdown and we just played pathetic.”
Armstrong played an impressive game against the Tigers, he finished 24-of-43 passing for 270 yards and three touchdowns. The biggest impact the sophomore made came on the ground, as he rushed 22 times for 89 yards.
Clemson did stand up when necessary on defense and intercepted a pair of passes. They also had a fourth down stop in the fourth quarter. Included in those stope was an impressive one-handed interception by Andrew Booth in the third quarter and a second quarter interception by Nolan Turner.
Virginia gave the Tigers fits schematically, particularly in the first half. A lot of its success can be attributed to the Cavaliers stems from the small sample size of film Clemson had in preparation for the game.
“We had some good plays and have plenty of opportunity to get better. They do a lot before the snap probably more than anybody we will see all year,” Venables said. “What we saw against Duke was pretty vanilla, so they ran a lot of new concepts.”
At the end of the day Venables was impressed with his unit for finding a way to win and embracing challenges.
“I’m proud of our guys because they found a way to win even though we were pretty inconsistent on the night,” he said.
Clemson hopes to shore up its play before facing D’Eriq King and No. 7 Miami at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.