Venables looking for consistency in the defense

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers have just a few practices and the spring game left before football officially goes into summer mode, and I asked new defensive coordinator Brent Venables following Monday’s scrimmage what he wants to see out of his defense in the time remaining.

His answer: consistency.

"Just consistency, from pad level, communication to being on edge and physical,” Venables said. “You want to win every rep in practice. I want them to like to come to practice. I want them to like to seek knowledge in the meeting room. I want to continue to enhance our culture on how we think, act and lead in this program.

“Our own level of expectation needs to be high. We need to be very demanding of ourselves. I want our guys to play with some attitude. That comes from knowledge. Nobody needs to be Superman. You just need to do your job and do it well and do it on every play. We want our guys to have that sense of desperation on every play. That's critical."

He said the defense started fast in Monday’s scrimmage, but needs to learn to finish.

"Our guys were really ready to practice and were on edge,” he said. “They performed really well but were inconsistent in some situationals. Some things have to be corrected. We have to learn to finish and have more maturity to handle some situations better, just a better awareness in some of the situations."

Two areas of concern that Venables has had to address this spring have been the defensive tackles [lack of experience] and the linebackers [lack of productivity], and each unit has shown definite improvement this spring.

The linebackers led the defense in tackles in Monday’s scrimmage, but tackle Josh WatsonJosh Watson
RS Fr. Defensive Tackle
#91 6-4, 290
Wilmington, DE

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also had five tackles and a sack.

"He [Watson] practiced in our mini-scrimmage well. He's working on the fundamentals of the game,’ Venables said. “He's active. He uses his hands well. He's tough and plays hard. He's refining things. He's got a good grasp of things. Some encouraging things with him all spring. You can't play good defense without those guys up front playing well, he and Grady [Jarrett] and DeShawn {Williams]. Tavaris BarnesTavaris Barnes
RS Fr. Defensive End
#6 6-4, 270
Jacksonville, FL

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has been out for a couple of practices. Even 95, Tra ThomasTra Thomas
RS Fr. Defensive Tackle
#95 6-0, 290
Wadesboro, NC

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, stepped in and did some positive things. I really feel like we have four, maybe a fifth guy who can play for us. I've been very encouraged with that group."

Linebacker Justin ParkerJustin Parker
So. Linebacker
#8 6-1, 225
Port Royal, SC

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also has shown recent improvement.

"Yeah, he's doing well. He's learning MIKE and WILL,” Venables said of Parker. “He's got good length. He's explosive. He finds the football and carries his pads well. I'm excited about his future and the progress he has made in a short amount of time. I think they've [all] definitely improved in their knowledge and fundamentals and technique, their understanding of what we're doing. Still, a lot to improve on. But I've been impressed with their attitude."

Head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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said that corner Darius Robison has gotten better by competing against Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Fr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 200
Fort Myers, FL

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, and Venables said he likes what he sees out of Robinson.

"He hasn't backed down from the challenge,” he said. “He has great respect for Sammy and all those receivers. He's had a very good spring. He's competed for the ball very well, consistently. He's tough-minded. He's really coachable. He's hard on himself."

Finally, Venables was asked where he sees linebacker Tony StewardTony Steward
Fr. Linebacker
#7 6-1, 245
Hastings, FL

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fitting in once he returns from injury.

"We'll wait and see. I have to see where he's comfortable. It'll be MIKE or WILL."

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