Venables hopeful his defense gets a game ball after dominating performance


by - Senior Writer -
Clemson's defense held Wake Forest to just 105 yards
Clemson's defense held Wake Forest to just 105 yards

CLEMSON – Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables was asked about his group’s dominant performance against Wake Forest Saturday in Death Valley, and he made sure to mention that the Demon Deacons were missing two of their best players.

Then he broke into a smile and admitted that holding Wake Forest to just 105 total yards was worthy of admiration and he said he hoped the defense would get a game ball.

"It was a great performance. First of all, just thankful for our players,” Venables said. “Their dedication, their commitment. 150 years of college football, and what they've accomplished through 11 games, you know, that's pretty special. Hopefully, they'll get a game ball out of it. That's probably my favorite thing of victory is the opportunity to get a game ball, but just super proud of them, our coaches, and again, it's hard to sustain success and just the mindset it takes to not only win but to play well and at a high level against a really well-coached and talented group. Very tough system to defend. Then for the seniors to go out, they'll never forget that last game. 22 in a row, that's pretty special to sit back and witness that, so just thankful for each and every guy in that locker room."

Clemson held Wake Forest to 105 total yards, including only 41 passing yards. Wake Forest entered the game averaging 487.3 total yards per game, including a conference-best 314.1 passing yards per game.

Clemson recorded 26 first downs to Wake Forest’s five. Clemson’s defense produced more three-and-outs (seven) than Wake Forest’s offense produced first downs (five). Those seven official three-and-outs also don’t include a one-play Wake Forest drive that ended with an interception.

The five first downs surrendered are Clemson’s fewest since the 2017 Kent State game (five) and the fewest against an ACC opponent since the 2009 Boston College game (four). Clemson’s 105 yards allowed were the program’s fewest since allowing 102 to South Carolina State in 2016. It was Clemson’s fewest yards allowed against an FBS and ACC opponent since holding Boston College to 54 total yards in 2009.

Clemson allowed only 2.06 yards per play (105 yards on 51 plays). It was the lowest yards-per-play average allowed by Clemson since last season at Boston College (1.98). Clemson held an 11th straight opponent below 300 yards of total offense to become the first team since the turn of the century to open a season holding opponents below 300 yards in each of the first 11 games. ESPN Stats & Info says it is the first such occurrence in records back to 1996.

Venables made sure to mention that the Demon Deacons were without wide receivers Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington.

"Well, first of all, they're a little shorthanded. Two of their best players didn't play, so we've got to keep a respectful perspective on things, not running around beating our chest,” he said. “At the same time, you've still got to go play, and our guys, they were very dominant, very precise and very physical. It's difficult until you really study them over a long period of time, it's a very difficult offense to defend. It takes the same kind of precision and discipline and physicality when you're playing a Georgia Tech of the Paul Johnson era.

“Just a lot of stress on every given play, and so that was a really strong performance, can't take anything away from our guys, and just thankful for them, their preparation, their willingness to continue to invest in the sustainability of a very high level of emotion and toughness and just the right attitude and mindset that you've got to have in order to play like that.”

Venables credited his senior leaders with making sure the team had the right mindset against an outmanned opponent.

"No matter what your opponent does, we've all witnessed, I've coached...we've played inferior opponents not anywhere close to as good as Wake is, and we've looked sloppy,” he said. “Jacking around and they're moving the ball up and down the field, and you're turning guys loose and not tackling well, and there's a lot that goes into playing well despite who you're playing. To me, that's tipping your cap to our leaders, and starting with our seniors, too. Those guys are completely invested in the moment and not looking ahead."

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