Venables not worried about soft coverage, but depth in secondary is a concern


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Ryan Carter celebrates his interception
Ryan Carter celebrates his interception

RALEIGH, NC – Brent Venables walked into the cramped postgame interview area at North Carolina St. and broke into a relieved smile.

It was that kind of night, a night when the secondary ran out of bodies and wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud played cornerback on the game’s deciding drive.

"We were running out of people. We were running out of people, that's what,” Venables said of the McCloud move. “That's what. He's a talented guy, needs a little more work over there to fine-tune some things but sometimes you run out of options.”

He then said not all games are going to be easy.

"Sometimes going on the road and winning, and throughout the course of the season, they all don't come easy,” he said. “Gotta take the good with the bad and the bad with the good and at the end of the day, get it done and you don't really think about it too much and you don't have too much time to react and readjust and run. You don't have too much time."

The Wolfpack attacked Clemson underneath all night, taking advantage of a soft zone to complete pass after pass on the way to 338 passing yards. However, Venables said the soft zone was by design and that the Tigers could have played it better.

"Yeah, keep everything underneath. Those are the plays I'm not really worried about. It's the first third down of the game and we're getting ready to go three and out on the first series and we just got tucked inside and played quarters coverage there and got beat inside and we're hitting the quarterback and he's throwing the ball and you've got to play great defense when you're going on the road,” Venables said. “I thought that kind of gave them confidence and got them and got us started off on the wrong foot. Those are the plays you've got to make, keep your leverage and stay inside. Period. Unacceptable but the rest of the guys are playing really well, other guys have a job to do.

“We had a couple drives, they got hot nickel and diming it and we missed a guy on a boot. Had a nice well designed, two different wheel routes where they found them late and you've just got to give them credit. They did a nice job of some things and I thought we got settled down but again I was more discouraged with the first half with the very first drive. Man, you've got to start fast the right way and we did with the exception of one guy losing his leverage on a post route for a touchdown. A touchdown. Live and learn from that and I thought our guys adjusted really well in the second half. Really well."

Things got so desperate that Venables took free safety Tanner Muse and his club (his hand is wrapped in a humungous cast) out of the game, moved Van Smith to free safety and K’Von Wallace to strong safety.

"Again, I think it's a disadvantage to cover, tackle, all of it,” Venables said of Muse and the cast. “You've got a big nub on your hand, it's one arm tied behind your back. He looked and did some good things in there and then we put Isaiah in there and again, Isaiah's (Simmons) just a freshman and is going to be a terrific player but gets a little bit out of position, a missed tackle and ran a little post curl route into the boundary and we're in a cover two and lost his leverage, ducks his head and tries for the big hit and again, it's a learning opportunity so that's when we made the decision to move Van over to free where he played a year ago and put K'Von at strong and we got some really talented young guys and got banged up. A.J. Terrell got hurt during the game and we already came in real thin. I loved the courage they showed and the grit and the toughness, the way we came out and didn't panicked.

“Everybody recognized the little things. Sometimes N.C. State executed well in the first half, too, but I thought we gave them a cheap one on the very first drive and should've taken the life out of the stadium. The way I look at it, I'd call that call a million times over too but we've got to play better."

Venables said the coaches didn’t think about moving Wallace to corner.

"He hasn't had too much work there. There's only so many reps in practice,” he said. “The number two guy, it's not like he's a number three. It's easy to say just to move him over but we've only got so many reps."

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