Venables on the spring game: We will find out who can play


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Venables is ready to see who stands out in Saturday's spring game
Venables is ready to see who stands out in Saturday's spring game

CLEMSON – Brent Venables is ready to see who can play when Death Valley is packed with orange-clad faithful.

Clemson’s defensive coordinator has to replace several starters from last year’s group, and he said that while he’s been encouraged by what he’s seen this spring, he’s ready to see who can perform in a game situation.

The Tigers play their annual spring game Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.

“I want to see guys play with great effort and be physical. Guys that look like they know what do and do the little things right and communicate,” Venables said after Wednesday’s practice. “I also want to come out of it healthy and see guys play clean, stay in their gaps and on top of the routes. Use their hands and play with good technique and pad level and those kinds of things.

“We will find out who can play and who can't when you aren't out there lining them up. We get a little bit of that in the scrimmage work that we do, but this is one more opportunity to evaluate guys and see if guys can separate or close the gap or pass one another. Can they handle game management or make plays with a big crowd watching? With a split squad it isn't quite as easy because the numbers aren't what they will be in the fall but you get a chance to evaluate more players.”

Venables also has to replace leaders like Shaq Lawson and B.J. Goodson from last year’s defense, and while he’s been pleaded with what he’s seen from players like Carlos Watkins and Ben Boulware this spring, he’s ready to see those players take it to another level.

"I want to see how they lead when we're not making them lead," Venables said. "They're all guys that have played a lot of football and won a lot, they understand the standard and how you play at a high level, the commitment that it takes. I think they're all smart guys that again have done it, but hopefully, they'll be the guys that are leading the way because we got a bunch of young guys that they need to lead."

OTHER NOTES

On Korrin Wiggins

"I don't know much about Korrin and where he's at. He hasn't been cleared to do anything full speed yet, so we're not counting on him one way or the other. Hopefully he'll get back and he's healthy and he has a good finish to what he started. But I really don't have any insight into where he'll be and that type of thing."

On Mark Fields

"He's still working hard. Gaining experience. Not everything comes second nature to him yet. Lot of times, the next thing he experiences is the first time he's seen it. Saw a little of that even today. So he's still in the middle of that maturation process. Very good skill set. He's got a lot of want-to. Hopefully he'll have enough want-to and desire that he's willing to put in a little bit of extra work that it's really going to take for him to be a great player -- and to be a consistent player before he becomes a great player. Because there's a lot of work to be done: Studying film, taking care of his body, understanding our schemes, knowing what he can and can't do, where his help is, what his leverage is, just a lot of little things."

On Van Smith

“Van has been really good. Really consistent, and that's about the best compliment I can give him. He's got a great feel for the game, a good head on his shoulders. He's got plenty of things to do to improve. He came ready to work every day with great focus. Really executed at a real high level, made a bunch of plays. Just very consistent. Very few days or drills where he was out there out of position or busted a call. Just had a clean spring up to this point. He's got ice in his veins. I like his makeup."

His thoughts on the secondary

“There are a lot of things to be pleased about. We had a really consistent spring. I am not ready to make any kind of proclamation but I'm more certain about where guys are than I was prior to the spring. I think there will be more guys that are ready to play than we anticipated. I do think based on the performance of guys like Denzel (Johnson) and Tanner (Muse), they are a little bit further ahead at this point than we thought maybe they would be.”

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