|by David Hood|
An overeager young television reporter asked Clemson’s defensive coordinator how he “planned to attack” the Syracuse offense this Saturday when the Tigers travel to update New York to take on the Orange in an ACC Atlantic contest.
Venables sat up straight, laughed, and asked the young reporter, “You want our game plan?”
Venables was of course not about to let anyone in the media know his plans or this Saturday, but did say that the offense will present some problems this Saturday.
“They present a lot of issues. They've been efficient with what they're doing,” Venables said. “I think it's the same offense with both QBs. They're both big, strong mobile guys. They're a combination like N.C. State where you will see spread. They've got big receivers and a big strong back who runs downhill and plays well behind his pads. They have a smaller, shiftier, make-you-miss-in-the-hole back. They play with toughness and physicality and have done well in recruiting. They played both QBs in their last game. It looks like it may be more of a platoon. They're both big strong guys who sit in the pocket well. They both have big arms. They're both quality players."
He then said that both quarterbacks will be a threat to run the football.
“They will have a little bit of option game. Some power,” he said. “It seems you're in the minority these days if you're not doing something like that with your quarterback."
The Syracuse offensive line is led by center Macky MacPherson, a group that Venables says is physical.
“They're very physical and one of the most physical we've faced,” he said. “They're well-coached. They handle movement well. They play a physical brand. They're built for running the football."
On Bashaud Breeland
“Doing all the little things the right way. He's disciplined with his eyes and technique. He's just doing his job. We were rather inconsistent at corner a year ago and it was all the simple things. We're just more consistent there execution-wise. He had a nice sack, too. He set the edge a couple of times really nice. He leveraged the ball well on a couple of jet sweeps. He's more confident and consistent."
On being ranked nationally in sacks
"I don't put a whole lot of stock into where you rank. I felt the front would be a strength of ours. If we're going to play well, it'll have to be that way. The expectation was that they would play well. We've shown to have some depth there as well."
On the availability of Carlos Watkins
"I don't think he'll play this weekend. There are some bone bruises. No breaks or ligament damage that I'm aware of. I don't think he'll be available this week."
The play of the younger safeties
"I was pleased with a lot of it. I think the more they play, the more comfortable they get. I was glad they were able to get in prior to the second half. What you take from it is that you feel confident that they'll continue to progress. We have a bunch in there. Hopefully it means we'll get better and better and our execution will be better and we'll have more guys who can do it. The guys that can do it now, hopefully they'll be fresher and stronger. You'd like to know that the next guy can go in and execute and do what you want him to do."
The play of the corners
"We're just better there. We're still working at getting better fundamentally and at tackling. We've shown to be more consistent at this point, better awareness and understanding with what we want them to do. There is a much better grasp of what we want them to do."
“He played well. I'm happy for him. That'll only help us at that position. I think he had six or seven tackles between linebacker and special teams. I think he did a great job."
On improved trust with the defense
“Guys are taking better angles to the ball. There are so many things that go. It sounds good to say simplify, but if they pull a blocker, you've got two gaps. You'd like for someone to take up two gaps, but you're going to have to have two guys for every blocker there is. It's little things where guys are playing with more aggression even out on the perimeter."
David Hood can be reached at email@example.com