The expression is in football is “speed kills.” When it comes to Clemson’s defense, few teams are faster than the top-ranked Tigers.
The goal for Brent Venables’ defense is to get as many players around the football as humanly possible. It is something Clemson has done a lot this year. So much so, it is becoming frustrating for opposing offenses.
Granted, the Tigers have given up a few plays here or there, that will happen from time-to-time, but Clemson’s aggressive style of play, to go along with its extreme talent, once again has it ranked high in regards to team defense.
“We are a fast defense. These guys can run,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “These guys on the backend can fly. We got speed everywhere. Our backers can run. The guys up front can run and move.”
The Tigers, who host Syracuse Saturday at Memorial Stadium, rank third nationally in total defense (264.6 yds/game) and fifth in scoring defense (12.0 pts/game). They also rank ninth in passing defense (168.2 yds/game) and 11th in rushing defense (96.4 yds/game).
Opponents are completing just 47.4 percent of their passes (third best in the country), while Clemson’s six interceptions is tied for seventh nationally.
Clemson’s aggressive style also has it ranked second in the country in sacks (22) and tackles for loss (50). The Tigers (5-0, 4-0 ACC) rank fourth in third down conversions allowed, as teams are converting just 25.6 percent of the time.
Watching Clemson play defense is just awesome. As an offensive person I marvel at how good they are above their ridiculous talent! @ClemsonFB vs @GeorgiaTechFB sat ABC with @espnbob & @MartySmithESPN
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) October 16, 2020
“It is just the effort. I have had a lot of guys that can run, but they just don’t play fast, or they don’t have that type of motor. But this defense has a motor,” Swinney said. “That is what I love. They have a motor. As a team, they have a motor.
“We hold them accountable every single week to how we get to the ball. Our effort to the ball, anybody loafing, anything like that, so they take pride in that. You put great effort with speed, you are going to get a lot of hats around the ball.”
The end result is a defense the swarms to the football like a bunch of gnats, aggravating its opponent on every play.
“It has been awesome to see. These guys are competing. We have been able to play a lot of people too, subbing a lot of guys. They are competing for time, guys are flying,” Swinney said. “They want to make a play. They want to get to the ball. They want to be in that frame when we freeze it, so it has been good to see.”
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