Venables knows stopping Shaw is a big key Saturday

by - Senior Writer -
Venables knows stopping Shaw is a big key Saturday

CLEMSON – Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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said last week that that following his hire last January, Clemson fans made it loud and clear and there was one team he had to beat – Georgia Tech.

It’s not surprising that so many Clemson fans wanted to be at Tech and hopefully shut down Paul Johnson’s option offense, especially after the success Georgia Tech had against Clemson heading into this season.

However, Venables said this week that he also understands that Clemson fans understandably wanted to beat Georgia Tech, he knows that this is rivalry week, and many coaches are judged on how they perform against their rival.

Venables was a part of a great rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas, and South Carolina and Clemson is no different.

“The biggest thing that you recognize, college football is so passionate. There’s a real attachment,” he told the media this week. “In virtually every home in South Carolina, someone’s wearing a orange or garnet. Everyone’s got a stake in the game. It’s a long, tradition-rich rivalry that there’s a lot of emotions, memories and everything that goes along with it. It doesn’t surprise me. You change the colors and it’s another huge rivalry game. It means a great deal to both coaches and players and certainly the constituency that’s out there.”

He said he also knows about the recent history of the series.

“They’ve had their way with us, it’s made everyone pretty mad around here,” he said. “For us, coaches and players, it’s a very exciting week. One where the game can’t get here soon enough, although there’s a process in how you prepare and get ready to play. You’re not going to play on Tuesday, and that’s the part that we as coaches have to do a good job of managing. The emotions of it. There’ll be ebb and flow of the game. You hate to think it’s true. You want great intensity and emotion every week but it’s not always the same as Clemson-South Carolina.”

Last season in Columbia, South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw torched Clemson’s defense, passing for 210 yards, rushing for 107 and accounting for four touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ 34-13 win.

Games like this Saturday’s are why Venables was picked to replace former defensive coordinator Kevin SteeleKevin Steele
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
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, who never could figure out how to stop mobile quarterbacks. The good news for Tiger fans is that Clemson’s defense has been better against mobile quarterbacks this season, the exception being Florida St. quarterback E.J. Manuel.

“Whatever plan we used against Manuel, we don’t want to use it this week,” Venables said to the media. “Yeah, it’s obvious you look around college football and in the NFL. Guys that aren’t just one-dimensional – some guys are just runners, some guys are just throwers – when guys can do both, it makes it much more difficult, much more stressful in all facets of your defense. It makes things a little more complicated. It extends plays, can create big plays if you don’t maintain discipline, whether it’s up front or discipline in your rush lanes, or discipline in the back end, trying to do too much.

“When do I come off my guy? They do a great job of working the scramble drill, fighting to get open. “He’s [Shaw] had great success the last two years. You just look at the team success and it’s reflective of the quarterback play. And it’ll be a huge challenge, one that our guys are very aware of. He was a big part of their success against us last year, running and throwing both. It’ll be a big challenge.”

Steele’s defenses played more man-to-man coverage than Venables’, and Venables said man defenses can be a liability against mobile quarterbacks.

“When you’re in man-to-man you have less eyes on the quarterback,” he said. “Sometimes it’s really good, sometimes it’s not. When you’re containing him in your rush lanes, covering the right people with good coverage and technique, it’s not as hard to defend. When one of those things breaks down, and he breaks out of the pocket, gets outside, those things, that’s when bad things can happen.”

Venables said that quarterbacks who can roll out and still pass are dangerous.

“If he’s a thrower and a scrambler, and [Shaw] is,” he said. “We saw for example, [Shawn Petty] from Maryland, which you would expect. We said when he pulls it down, come off your man, let’s come terrorize him. Quarterbacks have that tunnel vision, they can panic and you can really tee off. That’s not the case here. You have to really be disciplined because he can create a lot of big plays with his legs and extend plays.”

He said that the message to his defense this week will be a simple one.

“Keep that leverage we’ve been talking about here for six months. If you get outside, stay outside,” he said. “If you get inside, stay inside. There’s no more magical way to explain it, and I’m sure you know that. You’ve just got to continue to demand, reaffirm and coach and teach, those types of little things and the trust that goes with it. The sense of desperation that goes with it. Sometimes corners aren’t challenged for a number of plays in a row.

“When you start to relax, guys can run by you. (South Carolina) is as capable of any team we play of doing that and I know coach Spurrier is well aware of that. So we’ll be challenged that way. I think our guys will look forward to that, look forward to redemption to. Letting guys run by us – there’s ownership immediately. There’s willingness to be coached, they took responsibility for it. That’s what you need to grow. We gave ourselves a chance going into this week.”

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