There are some football people that wonder what Clemson defense will show up when the Tigers play Georgia in what will likely be a top five matchup to start the season.
There is concern Clemson could have a repeat performance from the last two times it played a top 5 opponent in a big game. The Tigers struggled on the defensive side of the ball in College Football Playoff losses to Ohio State and LSU the last two years, causing some to wonder if teams are finally catching up to Brent Venables’ schemes.
In the 2020 National Championship Game, Clemson gave up 628 yards and 42 points to Joe Burrow and LSU at the Superdome in New Orleans. A year later, in the same building, the Tigers gave up a bowl-record 639 total yards and 49 points to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
“In those playoff games, we have been on both sides of that. Two years ago, we won one by 28 points against (Alabama), the team that just won it this year,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said this past spring. “Those games are hard. We took our lumps the last couple of years, but you have to be ready in those moments. You have to be good enough to get there. So, it ain’t like it is all bad.”
Since the Sugar Bowl loss, Clemson’s defensive players have been outspoken about the way they played and have said it has been their focus to get it corrected ever since.
“We have a long way to go. We have some time to get the work done,” Swinney said. “I have just seen the same commitment from Brent Venables that I have seen ever since he got here. He has always been locked in focused and fully committed. He gives his best every single day that he walks in the building. He gives his best and you can count on that.”
Swinney says the defense has been more of the same under Venables’ direction this spring.
“We have been really, really good on defense around here for a long time. Brent is as good as it gets,” Swinney said. “But our eyes are now in the rearview mirror, our eyes are moving forward. It is about this team. It is about getting this group ready for the opener on Sept. 4.”
The Tigers will play Georgia at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Sept. 4, as part of the Duke’s Mayo Classic.
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