Covering the tight end has always been a thorn in the side for Clemson.
Alabama’s O.J. Howard is still running wide open down the far sideline in the 2016 National Championship Game. Of course, Pitt’s tight ends are still catching the shovel pass and running down the middle of Frank Howard Field from 2016.
“We have played some really good ones… I try to put them behind me after we play them,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “They are athletic like the Alabama tight ends we have faced before. The Notre Dame tight ends, Hayden Hurst (from South Carolina) was pretty good.”
Venables is comparing Miami tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory to the ones he has faced before. They are just as good, if not better, than anyone the Tigers (3-0, 2-0 ACC) have faced in the eight years Venables has been at Clemson.
The top-ranked Tigers are scheduled to take on Jordan and Mallory and the rest of the seventh-ranked Hurricanes (3-0, 2-0 ACC) Saturday at Death Valley.
“No doubt this the best tandem for sure,” Venables said. “Last week’s tight end provided a lot of problems systematically in their schemes and stuff. These guys are like receivers. They are really good. They are talented.”
Jordan is almost like a receiver. At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, he can pretty much do anything like a receiver. He leads Miami with 15 catches for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Mallory (6-foot-5, 245) does not have as many catches (2-27 yards, 1 TD) but he has proven in the past he can.
But there is good news. Since the loss to Pitt in 2016, the Tigers have done a better job scheming the tight ends. Of course, that was partially due to having All-Americans in Dorian O’Daniel and Isaiah Simmons at linebacker.
“We have made a lot of adjustments and just have gotten better. We have put ourselves in better calls. I don’t know if it has been an adjustment. It has not been an asserted adjustment,” Venables said. “You always want to defend them. They use them as a weapons. So, I think it is important to do the things that are going to help you defend them well. Take them, if they are one of the first options, then you want to try and take those things away for sure.
“There have been some that have had some excellent games against us in the past, but we have been a little bit better, but I think that is just improving over time defensively and getting better. That is probably a little reciprocal. I don’t know what it is, but we better be ready this week. I know that or these guys will embarrass you for sure.”
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