Venables on rankings: Pump the brakes, hot rod


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Venables on rankings: Pump the brakes, hot rod

CLEMSON - How does Brent Venables feel about Clemson's national ranking? Pump the brakes, hot rod, the Tigers still have to win games.

That was Venables’ message to his young son last week when Clemson sat at No. 4 and it’s the same message to his defense this week as the Tigers are No. 1 in the first College Football Playoff rankings.

Just like head coach Dabo Swinney, Venables said the rankings don’t matter if Clemson doesn’t take care of business and continue winning.

“We've got a chance. We just have to win. It's been proven that even if you win, you're still on the outside looking in,” Venables told the media Tuesday afternoon in the WestZone. “I don't get emotionally caught up in stuff that I have no control over. I really don't. I spend zero time on that because it doesn't make you better. It can be a distraction if you allow it to be. I just don't get caught up in. I'm on this side of it professionally and have been for a long time that you can control the things that you can control and that's it. Just like you can control your own mindset on defense. You're back is against the wall - you put the ball on the one - and you have to have a certain mindset. You don't just change that.”

Venables has been coaching for over 20 years and one of the first things he learned was that in order to be successful in his profession you have respect the game each and every week, no matter the opponent, something he said his defense didn’t necessarily do last week against N.C. State.

“There's a process in how you have consistent success, and I believe in structure and consistency and respect of the game,” Venables said. “I think we slopped around at times last week defensively because I don't think all of our guys respected the game. Some of the success that N.C. State had was because of them. You have to give them credit sometimes too, but some of the lack of precision was because I don't think we necessarily respected the game and the process and how you play at a high level. I've been here and done that many times and I say it very humbly that I feel just like I did last week. Here's this team and this is what they do. How do you defend it? Then you put a plan together that we do as a staff, and you just go to work. When you get out of that, I firmly believe that you're setting yourself up for failure, for sure failure.”

Clemson got past N.C. State 56-41 last weekend setting up a showdown with the ‘Noles for the right to play in the ACC Championship game, but Venables said Saturday’s game is no more important than the one against the Wolfpack or the next game at Syracuse.

“That's not how it works. I don't agree with that at all. It's not true. As it stands today if everybody else stays like it is then maybe, but I don't look at it as a fatalistic situation,” he said. “I think it's a great opportunity, but last week was a great opportunity, too. I've been fortunate to have a lot of success for a long time and I believe wholeheartedly in the method of be here now, take care of now, control what you can control and everything else takes care of itself. There's no more at stake this week than there was last week. I do understand that if you win this week then you've secured the division title, but what good does that do if all of a sudden you go up to Syracuse get waxed by them?”

And, if for some reason, Clemson were to drop the game against Florida St. it won’t be the end of the world for Venables or the football program.

“I don't look at that fatalistic attitude - Oh my gosh, if you don't win then you have no chance or whatever. I don't ever look at that. I think if you do, it builds up too much anxiety for everybody,” he said. “It's a great stage and that's why I came to Clemson. I believed that Clemson would be in this kind of position for a long time, and I wanted to be a part of it. You're going to get everybody's best shot when you're at a place like Clemson.

“Just like if we would've lost to Notre Dame, it would've been, 'Oh my gosh!' Now, Notre Dame is lost and they're still, 'In it.' Whatever 'In it' means. Alabama lost to Ole Miss and got kicked all over the field and everybody is saying they're done. That's exciting and it builds up all of the drama and I get that, but I don't really live in that. My youngest son is like, 'Oh my gosh, we're ranked fourth! What are we going to do?' Pump the brakes, hot rod. We've just got to win. If we don't win, then you don't deserve it. That's how I look at it. That doesn't mean you're not worth anything as a team or a coach or a player. It's just the way it is sometimes.”

However, it may cause the youngest Venables a little bit of angst when he takes a look at the polls on Sunday.

“He's the first one to tell me, 'Hey, we're getting screwed.' He starts hating other teams. I'm like, you are way over the top here,” Venables said.


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