Venables worried about depth in secondary, says even veterans still need coaching
|Monday, March 5, 2018, 7:40 AM- -|
CLEMSON – Brent Venables’ defense heading into the 2018 season is stacked, but that doesn’t mean he’s satisfied. The three defensive linemen who decided to return? That’s great, but all three still need coaching.
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The Tigers began spring practice last week, and he said that he’s been pleased with his group's retention.
“Real pleased with our ability to go out and execute with the first couple of units, it’s good,” Venables said. “We’ve got a lot of bodies that have played a lot of football. We’re a little shorthanded at safety and corner but we’ve got a bunch of guys who know what to do at all three levels so that’s encouraging. It’s good.”
Clemson returns Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, and Austin Bryant to a defensive line that figures to be among the nation’s best next season. While Venables loves the leadership that group brings, he also understands that they still require teaching.
“Well they all need to be coached and coaching is nonstop,” Venables said. “They understand the toughness it takes, the mindset it takes, the accountability and I think it’s as much as anything they know when they screw up and are willing to own up to and do a great job with leading all the other guys and showing them how to work. We never stop coaching these guys.
“Just two short practices, a very small, not much data but two guys who are coming on. Jordan Williams is a guy who is learning how to play inside and plays with good quickness and willingness to learn and willingness to be coached and really takes the leadership from the older guys well. Xavier’s done really well. He’s a big, strong, athletic guy that can bend and run and expect another huge step from him and his maturation. He’s a guy that we really worked hard at getting to take the next step last year.”
“Just athletic, can run, can bend and Mike Jones has good coverage ability and good athlete in space. KJ and Xavier are two explosive ends that can play long and play fast. Josh and Darnell are two fast, strong athletic bodies that can bend and know how to play inside and you can tell they’ve played inside.”
“I don’t feel great about our depth there at all. I really don’t but those three along with LeAnthony (Williams) and (Brian, Jr) Dawkins and have a couple guys coming in in the fall and they’re going to have to be ready and have to play for us.”
Mark Fields’ injury healed?
“Yeah he’s been healed. He missed a lot of football but Mark’s very talented and probably our best speed and transitional movement of anybody we got. Got to learn the details and become a technician and play within the framework of the defense and that’s all in front of him so hopefully he’ll come out and have a great senior year.”
Isaiah Simmons to linebacker
“He’ll play that position and he’ll play safety too. Jalen Williams, he’s not about to hear that, so I don’t assume anything. If you’ve got to choose one guy today, Jalen would go out and execute better than Isaiah. Isaiah’s got a lot of work to do but he’s big and strong and can run and can blitz and pretty good coverage ability and can play multiple positions. That’s what we like about Isaiah, his flexibility.”
K’Von Wallace at safety
“Well he started all year at safety, so he’ll stay there and if we ever need him at corner he can always go over and play. He’s a safety.”