Good reviews for Venables after first practice

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Brent Venables didn’t do anything earth-shattering or show a particular spark of genius during Wednesday’s first day of spring practice. He was, quite simply, a coach.

But there were some differences between Venables – Clemson’s new defensive coordinator - and former defensive coordinator Kevin SteeleKevin Steele
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
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Venables was on edge almost from the moment that practice started, and he was in his defenders’ ears from the first whistle. Even student managers weren’t immune to Venables’ take-charge attitude.

“Hey, where are the cones and the footballs? It’s almost time to go,” Venables said to one manager. “The drill is going to start in three minutes, and I don’t see any cones or footballs laid out for us. That has to been done now, so when we get over there, we get to work.”

Even the media weren’t spared a taste of Venables’ personality. He came off the field for interviews, and declined any requests until all of the media were assembled.

“If you don’t mind, I am just going to wait until everybody is over here,” Venables said. “That way I don’t have to answer the same questions twice.”

Senior defensive end Malliciah GoodmanMalliciah Goodman
Jr. Defensive End
#97 6-4, 280
Florence, SC

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admitted after practice that many of the things were the same, but there was a difference he noticed right off the bat.

“He is a great coach, and he is going to get after you,” Goodman said. “We repeated some of the plays that we didn’t get right. Usually, we will do that in the film room, but today we ran them again. I guess it is just a different philosophy.”

Venables said that for his part, Wednesday was more about gaining familiarity with the other coaches, his players and the routine.

“We do things, structurally, a little bit different,” Venables said. “I just need to learn the routine. That’s the biggest thing, because you’re creatures of habit. When you’ve been used to doing a certain drill on a certain part of the field, it’s been moved, so you’re kind of a fish out of water, at times. Everybody else seemed to be doing just fine, at times. I’m just trying to find my way.”

Venables admitted that he can get fiery and emotional, even on the practice field.

“It’s an emotional game. I coach with emotion and intensity,” he said. “The players play and the coaches coach, but I love to compete and be around young people. You’ve got to coach with an edge, to a certain degree.”

Even his new boss took notice of the way Venables handled himself during practice.

“He chases guys around,” head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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said. “Heck, he gets in drills. He demonstrates in some of the drills himself. I think the guys feed off of that.”

Venables was asked if all jobs were open, and he said that the players have to “earn” the right to play on his defense.

“I think our guys know they’re going to be judged on performance,” he said. “It’ll be a process. We won’t know anything by the end of tonight’s practice. We certainly won’t know anything after today. By the end of the spring, I think some guys will start to separate themselves. It’s a continual process. By the time we play Auburn, we’ll have a starting 11 out there.

“The model of consistency is what we’re looking for. The guys that show up every day, compete every day, consistently make plays, consistently know what to do; they give us good leadership - that’s kind of what we’re looking for. As coaches, we try to foster and develop that, and coach that. Guys, by the end of the spring, by the end of the summer, by the end of fall camp, will have earned the right to play.”

Goodman, linebacker Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
Fr. Linebacker
#12 6-3, 235
Polkton, NC

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and freshman Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
Fr. Defensive Back
# 6-1, 180
Tallahassee, FL

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all drew praise from Venables.

Venables said that he still hasn’t determined whether Anthony will stay at middle linebacker or move back to the outside, the position he played in high school.

“I think, the beauty of what [Anthony] can do, is kind of based on what other guys can do. I do think, athletically, intelligently and instinctually, he can do a lot of things,” Venables said. “He can do more than one thing. Some guys are just built to do a certain thing. I think the little bit that I know, the little bit that I’ve seen, I think he gives you a little bit of flexibility.”

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