Venables stiff-arms ESPN analyst, celebrates in party of one


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<span style=Photo by Josh Kelly / USATODAY">
Photo by Josh Kelly / USATODAY

CLEMSON – As the ball settled into Marcus Edmond’s hands for an interception, sealing Clemson’s dramatic 24-17 overtime victory over North Carolina St. Saturday afternoon, defensive coordinator Brent Venables threw his headset, stiff-armed ESPN analyst Todd McShay and had a party of one at the ten-yard line.

All I Do Is Win began to play over the stadium’s public address system, and Venables pumped his fist in celebration as he watched students and fans pour over the walls and his players jump on the Edmond pile in the end zone. He finally raised both arms in the air, then made his way through the celebrating throng towards Clemson’s locker room.

Winning in college football is a difficult thing to do, and when you manage to rip a victory out of the jaws of defeat, it should be celebrated, and Venables said he would’ve given the stiff arm to anybody.

“I just gave him (McShay) a stiff arm. I was looking for anybody,” Venables told the media after the game. “Unbelievable. If it would've been one of you guys, you would've got it, too. I was looking to celebrate. Unbelievable. I've never been so lucky.”

The fifth-year coordinator has been a part of plenty of dramatic wins during his time at Kansas State, Oklahoma and now Clemson, but he said this was by far the craziest and most dramatic.

"It's right there (as one of the craziest), man. We're so fortunate," Venables said. "We've had some things go our way. Our guys created those opportunities and we rode our players’ backs when it's all said and done. Ultimately, it comes down to them. There're no magical calls. You can be in some bad calls in a while, but it still comes down to executing and being physical and playing with good technique and having some toughness and fight to you, and we had just a little bit more than them today when it was all said and done. Give credit to N.C. State. They played a heck of a ballgame, but I'm really, really proud of our guys of overcoming a ton of adversity and making some crazy, great plays. It was a lot of fun to watch."

Venables said it’s the team’s attitude that they won’t be defeated that was the difference in Saturday’s game, but there were a lot of little things that went against the Tigers throughout the game.

“Just never say die attitude. The power of belief. The character, the toughness, the fortitude. Just keep hanging in there. Just keep playing. Just that mindset to not get defeated,” Venables said. “Control what we can control. N.C. State did a terrific job. We weren't great today. They had a lot to do with it at times, but we were just on the wrong side of it so many plays in that game today. An example, the fourth-and-five, we had good coverage and K'Von Wallace is there just a split second early. They slipped out of a couple of tackles and instead of gaining three, they gained six, or they gained five.

“We were on the right side of it more than we weren't. I thought we lost the edge a few times early in the game. They had a whole bunch of new things that I thought our guys fought through and adjusted to. They ran the ball just a little bit better than you wanted them to where I felt like they could control situationally where you didn't feel real comfortable. I think it was right around four yards per carry and that's a half-yard too much. They're a team out of the spread with big people, and they really emphasize the run game, and they did a good job hatting it up, and we've got to be better. We'll work on that in the off week.”

While Venables isn’t concerned with N.C. State making what he calls ‘competitive plays’, he is concerned about some his defenders getting out-manned at times.

“They're going to make some plays. We lost some leverage, and because of that we were out of position, and our tackling suffered,” he said. “There were times I thought the pile went the wrong way, too. Those are the little things I'm worried about. People are going to make plays, but at times I didn't think we were as strong at the point of attack as we needed to be and that doesn't mean the d-tackle or the d-end. It could be the DB outside on the edge on a quick screen where we lose leverage and having people running down the middle. Give N.C. State credit. Their skill guys are good, and their running backs run really hard. They made some really competitive plays, and you can live with those.”

However, for the next 48 hours, Venables will focus on the positives and enjoy the win. After that, it’s all eyes on Florida State.

“For the next 48 hours, there will be no coaching. No coaching allowed. I'm in the 'No Coaching Zone.' Let them enjoy it. It was a tough win,” he said. “We need a little bit of a break here. I think this comes at a good time and lets us get mentally and physically refreshed and attack this stretch run. We'll get the mistakes fixed. That's part of it. Regardless of how we play, there are corrections to be made, but also promoting all of the good moments, too. I think adversity is something you have to embrace because it really forces us to lean on one another and that's what really good teams do. They do get better. They do correct mistakes. They aren't mistake-free but they get a little bit better collectively as the season goes on.”


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