Venables says his defense is "starting to get into a rhythm"


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Venables makes a call last Saturday at Wake Forest
Venables makes a call last Saturday at Wake Forest

Brent Venables walked out of the visiting locker room at Wake Forest last Saturday dressed in a traveling suit and a ballcap, typical attire for the Tigers’ defensive coordinator on the road. Not typical was the relieved smile on his face.

Venables’ defense held the Demon Deacons to only 249 total yards, including 74 yards passing and 175 yards rushing and only three points. The Demon Deacons entered the game averaging 38.2 points and 487.6 yards per game (244.4 rushing yards and 243.2 passing yards).

Following two weeks of an emotional rollercoaster that included the departure of quarterback Kelly Bryant and the sudden passing of former running back CJ Fuller, Venables was happy to be talking about another win on the road.

Venables said the Tigers were in a rhythm getting off the bus.

"We don't pat on 'em on the back a whole lot around here but we did on Thursday and Friday,” Venables said. “Like dang man, we might actually go out and really play well. And we really did. We really tackled well and played very clean, focused. We were in a rhythm getting off the bus today.

“Very disruptive and tackled strong, what Wake does well is mushing you for another four or five yards after initial contact. We had a big emphasis on first contact and our guys really did a good job.”

The defense is beginning to settle in, ranking third nationally in total defense at 261.2 yards per game. The Tigers also rank in the top-10 in tackles for loss a game (4th; 9.5), passing defense (7th; 152.8), scoring defense (7th; 14.5 PPG), sacks per game (8th; 3.3) and third-down defense (9th; .278).

“We’re starting to get into a rhythm,” Venables said. “Sometimes it takes a while to develop and this is a great example of developing a team and our days are counting down. In order to be a team that competes for a league championship everybody has to turn up the intensity and commitment.

"I told the guys, really I've been on teams that've peaked too early and fallen on their face. And teams that were a model of dysfunction early and really became something late. Every year is different. This is a great example of that. We are developing an identity, whatever it is.”

The Tigers are off this week but begin the second half of the season with a home game against undefeated NC State a week from Saturday. The Tigers then travel to Florida St., host Louisville, travel to Boston College and then finish the regular season with home games against Duke and South Carolina.

"The days are ticking, man. We are not going to get this time back,” Venables said. “There's a lot of guys playing their last year. And it's the last time some of the guys can play with those guys. So really don't take any of it for granted was our message this week. Everybody has got to turn up the intensity, commitment and passion of playing good football."

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