Despite mounting injuries, defense responds late against Florida St.


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Clemson's defense held when it had to
Clemson's defense held when it had to

CLEMSON – Brent Venables’ defense entered Saturday’s home game with three injured starters standing on the sidelines in street clothes, and two more starters went out with injuries during the game.

Defensive tackle Albert Huggins told the media after the game that Venables’ message to the rest of the defense was clear – next man up.

Venables told the media after the game that he’s never been around a defense that has suffered this kind of attrition.

"Probably not in the position that we're in having the kind of season we are and again going against a quality opponent like Florida State,” Venables said. “Our guys that had those opportunities we're ready for it and made the most of it. Whether it's Albert or JD Davis, just go down the list, there's a bunch of them. Chris Register got a bunch of good snaps in there, Trayvon, Ryan Carter really played well 'til he got his bell rung a little bit. A.J. (Terrell) came in and played well so just really, really proud of those guys, and of course, K'Von (Wallace) really played well as well."

Florida St. had a chance to either tie the game or go ahead late, but safety Van Smith intercepted FSU quarterback James Blackman.

"Obviously he did a great job in coverage there and obviously gave our offense the ball right back and we go down and score so that's a real big play, but I thought the key to the game was how we played well and dominated the line of scrimmage,” Venables said. “We didn't let their rushing attack get going and kept them from having balance from what they're doing. We're a bunch of guys down, and our guys did a really great job of answering the bell.

"That's what you expect being his third year and he's (Smith) a player for us. That backend did a great job all week helping guys prepare for the game, and again he played really, really well. He did a great job. He was in a robber position, trying to run away from leverage and we left it out there, and he's in a terrific position to go out there and get the ball. Proud of him for that and again a huge play obviously there in the game."

Linebacker Kendall Joseph was a late scratch to the lineup.

“We're really hopeful that Kendall could go,” Venables said. “Repped him in Thursday's practice but in pregame he just didn't feel like he was at his best, but not surprised those other guys got in there and did well."

The secondary, already without Mark Fields and Marcus Edmond, lost Ryan Carter after a vicious hit in the third quarter. Venables said that while the injuries have taken a toll, they’ve also allowed some younger players to gain valuable experience.

“Sometimes it's frustrating, but those guys have worked hard in their preparation and been easy to coach and again with the young guys you've got to get them confident and get them calls they can execute but ultimately they've got to go out and do it. Just really proud of them,” Venables said. “A.J .gets in there and almost has a sack. That'll be a good teaching moment there for a couple guys on that particular play why it's so important to finish, but tips the ball there and almost has the pick. I thought Trayvon really played well but I think he had a couple of calls, I think he was in great position on maybe both of those and really proud of him, and Ryan Carter played well. Dorian played excellent, that one nice ball they had there in cover two but really our guys, really dominant particularly in that first half and had a lot of great moments in that game."

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