Venables: "You have to have that road dog mentality"
|Tuesday, November 26, 2013 4:29 PM- -|
CLEMSON- One of the first things
Brent Venables Venables is now 2-0 against the Yellow Jackets, but lost in his first try against South Carolina last season. The Gamecocks started backup Dylan Thompson in that contest, so Venables didn’t get to see a healthy Connor Shaw. However, he still remembers that game film from when he arrived on campus, and he has added to that study this week. His take? Nothing has really changed with the way South Carolina operates offensively.
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
View Full Profile did when he accepted the defensive coordinator job at Clemson was to look at film of Georgia Tech and South Carolina, two teams that have given Clemson fits in recent seasons.
Venables is now 2-0 against the Yellow Jackets, but lost in his first try against South Carolina last season. The Gamecocks started backup Dylan Thompson in that contest, so Venables didn’t get to see a healthy Connor Shaw. However, he still remembers that game film from when he arrived on campus, and he has added to that study this week.
His take? Nothing has really changed with the way South Carolina operates offensively.
"Yes. I've watched it. I watched it when I got here,” Venables said Tuesday in the WestZone. “It was a lot of the same zone-read, shotgun zone-read and he pulled it a lot. There was two-tight end and one-tight end sets. Yes, I saw that."
Venables said that Shaw can be a game-changer.
"He's got great toughness. He's got an incredible will to win,” he said. “His track record speaks for itself. He is a gamer. He is highly skilled. He's got great athletic ability and can extend plays with his feet. He makes things happen. He always keeps his vision down the field. He has good instincts as a QB. He brings great leadership to their team."
So, with big backs like Mike Davis, speedy receivers and tight ends and the elusive Bruce Ellington, how do you succeed against their offense?
"You have to play physical at the line of scrimmage and in your second level your linebackers have to fit things well. You have to tackle, too,” he said. “They run behind their pads well and with great determination. I know Mike Davis led the SEC in rushing for a while. He is a terrific runner and No. 7 (Shon Carson) is a great complement with shiftiness and explosiveness. They pound people and have had success doing it."
The Tigers were unable to get the South Carolina offense off the field in the second half of last year’s loss, and Venables said third down will be the key down again this week.
“They're always critical. If they're chewing clock it means they're probably running the ball effectively. Coach Spurrier is very patient,” he said. “They win a lot of tight games. It's not just this year. Since he has been there, it's been their mode of operation. His quarterbacks are an extension of him. Third down is critical. We were somewhere in the 50-percent range a year ago and it was a huge part of the game. We didn't convert very many on offense and we didn't stop them very well on defense. That's a recipe for disaster. We need to own the line of scrimmage and we didn't do that either last year. There are a lot of critical factors in this game and third down is obviously a huge part of that."
The Tigers rank sixth nationally in opponent third down conversions, giving up just 53 conversions in 179 attempts, a rate of 29.61 percent, and Venables said the Tigers are better this season than they were a year ago.
"We were pretty good last year going in to the game, but not as good as we are this year,” he said. “We didn't play well. We didn't cover them good, we didn't tackle them good and pressure them good on third down. We didn't do anything good on third down. But yeah I expect to be better. We need to be. That's the plan. That's a huge part of the game."
Venables said that Spurrier is using the threat of Shaw as a runner to keep defense’s honest.
"He's a good play-caller obviously. He has had great success. He's smart with what he does,” he said. “He's simple to a certain degree but incredibly effective. The quarterbacks are usually an extension of him. The quarterback run game is an element that has been added the last couple of years and it has given them another big weapon. He's aggressive. He's got that go-for-broke attitude as a play-caller. I think that's reflective of his aggressive personality."
Clemson’s secondary will be without starting safety
Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
So. Defensive Back
#11 6-0, 190
View Full Profile , who will be replaced by freshman Jayron KearseJayron Kearse
#20 6-4, 205
Fort Myers, FL
View Full Profile , and Venables said that he expects Kearse to be ready for the challenge.
"He's excited for the challenge. He has worked hard. He's ready for it,” Venables said of the Florida native. “He recognizes that he has a big job in front of him and big shoes to fill. He needs to play well. Jayron likes the challenge. He doesn't really shy away from it, whether that's being naïve or not. I'd much rather it be that way than him being all freaked out about it. That may be a good thing. I would expect for him not to flinch, but we'll see."
Venables said the Tigers will have to have the “road dog” mentality in order to come away with a win.
"I think there is excitement. They recognize what's at stake. Going on the road you have to have that road dog mentality,” he said. “It'll be a hostile environment. It's a great challenge on one hand because they'll be ready for us. It's a fun, inviting atmosphere if you have the right mentality. It's a huge rivalry game, a big stage and one where our guys are incredibly excited."