Dabo Swinney and his assistant coaches have insisted throughout fall camp that the defense has been ahead of the offense, but the offense got the best of Brent Venables’ unit in Saturday’s scrimmage, and the Tigers defensive coordinator made it known that he was not happy with what he saw from his players.
“We weren’t real good today. I was displeased. Disappointed. I didn’t think we came ready to perform,” Venables said. “Didn’t feel like we got ourselves better today. Just the effort. I didn’t think the effort (was there). I didn’t think we were physical.”
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who is expected to have a big season for the Tigers, said the defense played like it was already satisfied with what it has accomplished thus far in August.
“We just found out we’re not as good as we thought we were. A lot of guys on the defense have been kind of listening to the media a little too much,” Ferrell said. “But we’ve just got to get back and focus on the inner core of the defense and realize we’re not as good as we think we are. We have a lot of talent, but we have to get back to working really hard.”
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Venables said that more than anything else, he believes his defense is lacking toughness.
“I can’t be tough for them. You can’t teach them how to be tough. They either are or they aren’t,” Venables said. “I’m not sure if we have that or not. We’ll see. We’ve got two weeks. We’ll see if we can get them ready.”
ETIENNE CONTINUES TO SHINE
Clemson freshman running back Travis Etienne has been making plays throughout fall camp as he looks to earn playing time early in the season.
Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant singled out Etienne when asked whether any players stood out in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Travis, he runs hard. He’s been making plays,” Bryant said. “Every time he has the ball, he gets in a scrum and finds a way to get out of there and make guys miss. It’s really been good to see him coming on late here in camp. He’s going to be a good asset. He’s been doing everything that’s been asked of him and more.”
There was not one star of Saturday’s scrimmage as Swinney said several players on offense stood out with their play.
“We had a lot of big plays today. All the quarterbacks had big plays. All the running backs had big plays. (Tavien Feaster) had a third-and-1, short yardage, and took it the distance. He busted free and really showed his speed,” Swinney said. “Travis has a big play every day. Just another day from him. Milan (Richard) had a couple of big plays. Tee Higgins had some big plays. Diondre Overton had big plays. T.J. Chase had a big play. All of them. Cornell (Powell) had a big play. Deon (Cain) had a big play. Ray-Ray (McCloud) had a big play. Will Swinney had a big play. I’m getting deep now. It was across the board.”