Venables not happy: "It's not DL-U, it's the Clemson defense"


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Venables ran his defense for 20 minutes after Wednesday's scrimmage
Venables ran his defense for 20 minutes after Wednesday's scrimmage

CLEMSON - Call it a lack of leadership or a lack of attention to detail or a lack of intelligence or knowledge or a lack of energy and intensity. Call it whatever you want, but Brent Venables isn’t happy with where his defense is with five spring practices remaining.

Clemson’s offense apparently got the better of the defense during Wednesday’s stadium scrimmage and while it’s not all that uncommon for the Tigers’ defensive coordinator to challenge his players through the media, he appeared genuinely unhappy with his players’ performance.

Not only was the disdain apparent in his meeting with the media afterward, he also made the defense run for a solid 20 minutes following the conclusion of the practice.

“We didn’t play very well and got a lot of work to do. Just today I don’t think we had the right kind of focus,” Venables said Wednesday evening. “I don’t know (how much the lack of focus can be attributed to nine days off), they were catching them and completing them on the other side, we just didn’t do a good job leveraging the ball and playing like we need to play.”

Venables said it was more than just a lack of focus; guys weren’t doing the things they were taught to do.

“I mean three corners and one and wideout who is running up the field, you run up the field with them,” Venables said. “(Running) Back runs in the backfield or runs up the flat in the backfield, you don’t run up the field so mentality, knowledge, intelligence whatever you want to use, you got to play better than that. You have to play consistent you have to do your job.”

Clemson is repping three groups during spring practice but it wasn’t just the younger players making mistakes, the problems started at the very beginning.

“No, I wouldn’t say that, we jumped offside with the older guys so that’s the older guys making a mistake but you know in our first scrimmage our first unit played really well and today nobody played,” he said. “You know we just came out right away with no energy, no intensity, and the way you have to play this game, with an edge and so just lack of leadership and consistency. We just didn’t play with any kind of focus and I just thought we were kind of going through the motions.”

Venables said he’ll do whatever it takes to get the problems corrected and while it begins and ends with him, at some point the players have to take ownership is well.

It’s a little bit of everything, coach has got to be responsible first. The guys need to leave that meeting room with the right kind of edge and mentality and that’s our job – getting them ready to play. They’ve got to take ownership in it too. There’s too many mistakes – physical mistakes, mental mistakes, just not the right edge and focus, stopping, jumping off sides, stopping in the back end, playing didn’t stop, receiver didn’t stop, quarterback didn’t stop, so just stuff like that. I just didn’t think we played with the maturity that you need to. It just takes one guy here and there.

If Clemson is to accomplish its goals in 2018, it will take a total team effort from the defense, not just one unit playing well each week.

"All three units you play out there – it’s all your defense. It’s not like, well, the d-line played good and they didn’t, your unit suffers," Venables said. "The backers didn’t play good but the DB’s did. It’s not DLU, this is the Clemson defense, so whoever runs out on that field or the practice field or goes in that weight room, that’s our unit so the guys need to know, ‘oh we did our thing.’ That’s not how it works, I wish it did.

“Oh well, we won two out of three it just doesn’t work that way so we just have to take more accountability starting again with leadership, coach, the players, and just starting off the scrimmage right away and lining up offside. The DB lines up off side, that’s not playing with discipline. You’re not good let alone great when you line up off sides, you’re undisciplined. Then you jump offside on the next play and then you stop in the middle of the play and it’s a touchdown. There are some good plays. I’m always the Debbie Downer and Mr. negative, but I call it like I see it. If they earn it, make a competitive play then that’s great. The whole mind set, the attitude, the body language everything just wasn’t where we needed to be so I’m supposed to act like I’m happy or its just one day but that’s not how it works, not for me.”


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