Opening effort gives Venables chills


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The Terriers completed just 6-of-18 passes for 90 yards and rushed 45 times for 123 yards.
The Terriers completed just 6-of-18 passes for 90 yards and rushed 45 times for 123 yards.

CLEMSON – If Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Def. Coordinator / Linebackers
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liked what he saw from the Clemson fans before Saturday’s game, he really had to like the show his defense put on for those fans against Wofford in the season opener.

The Tigers’ defense, with many new faces, put together a dominant performance against the FCS Terriers. And it was a performance worthy of the sellout crowd that showed up for the game.

“I liked the attitude,” Venables said. “I liked the intensity that we had, the focus, the preparation. We were very detailed, and it showed. Our guys were excited to play, and what an incredible atmosphere. Our fans were something special, to have that type of intensity in the crowd and support, a sellout. The cars were going all the way past Pendleton, coming in on the bus out from Anderson, and that was a first for me.

“It gives me chills thinking about it. That’s cool. That’s when you know you’re doing things right and the people are coming to watch our guys perform.”

The fans certainly had to enjoy what they saw from the defense. Wofford managed just 213 yards, averaging less than 4.0 yards per play. The Terriers completed just 6-of-18 passes for 90 yards and rushed 45 times for 123 yards.

Wofford had nine first downs and struggled on third-down tries (4-of-16) and missed on its only fourth-down try.

And that came against a defense that had seven true freshmen play.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” Venables said. “We had a number of guys who played in their first game ever, and we had a number of first-time starters who really answered the bell, and I couldn’t be more proud. We have some things we have to show more discipline on, but not many, and a lot to build from.

“That was just one game, and what I enjoyed most of it was just the preparation it takes to perform at a high level, being ready to play. Hopefully, that’s what they take from it more than anything else because now we have to start over and do it again.”

The middle of the defensive line, with so many new faces, set the tone with strong play from Scott PaganoScott Pagano
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#56 6-3, 290
Honolulu, HI

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, Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
RS Jr. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 296
Mooresboro, NC

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, Rod Byers, Christian WilkinsChristian Wilkins
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#42 6-5, 299
Longmeadow, MA

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and Jabril RobinsonJabril Robinson
RS Fr. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-3, 276
Leland, NC

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“It’s everything when you’re playing against an option team,” Venables said of the importance of the defensive middle. “It all starts with the fullback and the guys getting that disruption inside at the mesh point. Those guys did a terrific job. Scott, Carlos, Rod, Christian and Jabril, they did a great job. That’s where it all starts. “

Clemson finished with 10 tackles for loss and one sack. T.J. GreenT.J. Green
Jr. Safety
#15 6-3, 203
Sylacauga, AL

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led the way with 10 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, while B.J. GoodsonB.J. Goodson
RS Sr. Linebacker
#44 6-0, 245
Lamar, SC

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had eight tackles.

Venables will be looking for a similar performance Saturday when the Tigers host Appalachian State.

“To see them come out and have some reward for, you know, a good start,” Venables said. “And that’s all it is; it’s just a start. We’ve got a long season. The really good ones, the great units, the great teams, the great players, love that grind and embrace the grind. And it’s hard. It doesn’t get easier from here on out, it gets harder. Hopefully, we have that.”

Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Morning Show on FoxSports 1670 AM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at macon.com/peachsports.

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