Sands of the Hourglass: Venables takes message to heart


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Venables makes a defensive call earlier this season
Venables makes a defensive call earlier this season

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held up an hourglass during a team meeting earlier this week, hoping to get the point across that both the players and coaches have to take advantage of each second they have.

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables got the message, and he hopes his defense takes the message to heart as they prepare to take on No. 12 Florida St. Saturday night in Tallahassee.

Venables, who met with the media Tuesday, tried to explain the demonstration and the point Swinney was trying to convey.

“Just take advantage of the time that you do have, maximize the time that you have and don't waste your time. Your time is limited in your opportunity here at Clemson and your opportunity to be 7-0,” Venables said. “Appreciate this opportunity and appreciate the time that we have together. It's unique and special. It's a lot of things that he's trying to suggest by that demonstration. As much as anything, we have to prepare. You want to play well? You have to prepare well.

“It's not all about getting jacked up and excited and having great players. That's not what wins for you. Emotion is a great part of the game. It's the great equalizer in the game, being intense, but that comes on game day. The confidence and the toughness, playing fast, playing physical, making competitive plays, that all comes from the preparation and the very limited amount of time that you have.”

It wasn’t your typical emotional speech, but it fired up the Tigers’ coordinator.

“I know I was like, yeah I like that. Let's go practice,” he said. “It was a great demonstration and one where I think players relate. It's one thing to say it but it's sitting there and you can point to it. It's good.”

Venables is also looking for his defense to have that “road dog” mentality he strives to see, something he says will be necessary if the Tigers are to beat Florida St. in Doak Campbell.

“It's their preparation and having a road dog mentality. If you're going to have a chance to beat good people on the road, you've got to play great defense and win field position - both are a huge part of that,” Venables said. “You don't have anybody cheering you on or anybody telling you to get up or get the crowd to affect the offense like you do at home. You see a lot of adversity when you're on the road, so you try to get your players to have a mindset where we embrace that mentality that we're more frantic than ever, more desperate than ever to win game and you have to play good defense.

“We've been in too many shootouts through the years, more than I care to remember, but that's not you're wanting to do - to go on the road and win a shootout. That's not the mindset. Our guys recognize going into to Doak Campbell and all of the pageantry that goes on and the pridefulness of that program and the success that they've had and the players that they've recruited and the schemes that they have. I expect them to go in there with a great mindset where they know if we're off, we're asking for it. I think it's all of those things.”

OTHER NOTES

On having success early

“I don't talk about something like that. I have too much respect for the game and the opponent to think that we're just going to go out there and roll all over them, whether it's early or the whole game. It's a great point. I've been in that position a number of times during the course of a game when things are coming easy, so that's when you get in people's faces and try to scare the heck out of them and keep them on edge and keep them focused. That's very natural if success comes to easy. It's easy to let your guard down, but Florida State is very talented, super well-coached and they've been there and done that, all of the scenarios. They have done remarkably well when their backs are against the wall. Sometimes they're figuring out how you're playing them and they have answers to what you're doing, so a prideful, tough program that's had success and is as good there is in the country the last 10 years. It's not a real big surprise. We expect a fist fight for 60 minutes and to get their best shot from the get go.”

Giving up big yards to FSU last season, but just 13 points

“We gave up a couple of big runs and a couple of chunk plays and that will do that to the numbers. We got settled in and played better. That's the story within the story - a couple of early chunk plays and then we got settled in and started playing better team defense.”

FSU wide receivers

“Big, long, fast. Experienced. A lot of moxie within their group with the right guys. Very fast. Kermit Whitfield is faster than anybody we've got on our defense. Then again, a very good system. They're very well-coached and put in competitive, winning positions. They understand defense and play with toughness. Block well on the perimeter in the run game and the screen game. They can kind of do it all. I just look at the numbers. I've got a lot of respect for them. I know what they can do and how fast they are and how they can get behind you. Both scheme and talent and they've got toughness in how they're coached.”

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