CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Unfinished business: Reed sees a hungry Clemson defense for 2023
Mike Reed sees a defense ready to step up in 2023.

Unfinished business: Reed sees a hungry Clemson defense for 2023


by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson assistant head coach and corners coach Mike Reed said the way last season ended, with losses in two of the last three games, left a bad taste in his mouth. He thinks the defense feels the same way and has unfinished business.

Clemson lost the rivalry game to South Carolina in a game in which the defense gave up 360 yards passing yards to the Gamecocks. Tennessee gained just 375 total yards in the Vols’ win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, but they didn’t turn the ball over and scored in every quarter.

Reed said he knows how the players feel.

“You see some of the guys that came back,” Reed said. “Tyler Davis. Ruke Orhorhoro. It left a bad taste. If we would’ve won the national championship, their (butts) probably would’ve left. But there’s some unfinished business.”

After finishing first in total defense in 2014, the Tigers fashioned an impressive string of top-10 units that was broken only by a 15th-place finish in 2020. That ended last year with a drop to 28th.

“The bar and the standard here is high,” Reed said. “The kids understand that when they come here, they’re coming here with a purpose. They want to championships. When you don’t get to what you really want, you’ve got to come back and you’ve got to fix it.”

The Tigers finished 76th nationally against the pass in 2022, and gave up a whopping 20 touchdowns through the air. The Tigers, who finished in the bottom third of the ACC in pass defense, allowed 48 completions of at least 20 yards.

Clemson did finish with 13 interceptions, but Reed wants to see more.

"You have to throw the ball more in practice. If you're not catching the ball in a game, well then you have to throw more in practice,” he said. “And get them to a point where they are relaxed and not tense when the ball comes. It's not like they mean to miss it... they get right there and the ball is right there and they miss it. One of the ways you improve that is hand and eye coordinator drills, strengthening the hands, and catching more football."

The good news? Clemson returns several pieces from last season. That includes five safeties with experience in Andrew Mukuba, Tyler Venables, RJ Mickens, Jalyn Phillips, and Sherrod Covil. Sheridan Jones returns for a final season at corner, along with 2022 starter Nate Wiggins. Malcolm Greene told TigerNet Tuesday that he is as healthy as he’s been since he arrived on campus, and both Jeadyn Lukus and Toriano Pride gained valuable experience last season.

“Now guys are realizing when coaches were stressing the details and the small things, they understand that’s the difference between a touchdown and a pass breakup,” Reed said. “Or a missed block could mean a big play. Guys realize it. They see it, they’re more mature, and it’s time for them to turn the page and get better. They want to win, and they love to compete. Guys are really going after it.”

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