Clemson University

Clemson DC: ‘(We) have to play our butts off’

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables expected Virginia Tech to provide a tough challenge for the Tigers.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables expected Virginia Tech to provide a tough challenge for the Tigers. USA TODAY

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said Tuesday he has a lot of respect for Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, and Venables’ unit, as well as Clemson’s offense, will have to play well for the Tigers to win their second consecutive ACC title.

“My comment to our guys is, ‘We’re going to have to play our butts off on defense because I know our offense is going to have to play their butts off. Nothing’s going to come easy. This ain’t last week,’ ” Venables said.

He added he admires the way Foster’s career at Virginia Tech has gone. Foster has been on staff at Virginia Tech since 1987 and has served as the defensive coordinator since 1995.

“He’s awesome. He’s had this level of consistency that’s unparalleled,” Venables said. “He stands for what’s right – toughness, discipline, effort, aggressive. He stands for what you want to be about on defense.”


South Carolina opted to bring its quarterback to the sideline to get the play call and then huddle before the play against the Tigers.

Venables said not having to worry about tempo was a big plus.

“Who doesn’t love a huddle?” he said. “When South Carolina was huddling I was like, ‘This is great.’ 


Venables said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is great at keeping players calm and focused on one game at a time. While USC said pressure was on the Tigers leading up to last Saturday’s game, Clemson wasn’t buying it.

“When South Carolina is ‘Hoping that the pressure is going to cave Clemson in,’ we’re laughing and having a good time through the process,” Venables said.


Virginia Tech fullback Sam Rogers does it all for the Hokies and has Clemson’s attention.

He’s rushed for 269 yards and two touchdowns, and caught 19 passes for 251 yards and three scores this season. He has also thrown a pass, which went for a 13-yard touchdown.

“I love him. He’s a great football player. Got a lot of respect for him and the way he plays the game. He’s one of my favorite football players that I’ve watched all season. He’s got the ‘it’ factor,” Venables said. “You’ve got to wrap that dude up, hit him early. He’s excellent in space.”


Clemson freshman defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence was named the ACC Rookie of the Year. He has 71 tackles with 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks this season.

ACC title game

Who: Clemson vs. Virginia Tech

When: 8 p.m., Saturday

Where: Orlando, Fla.


Line: Clemson by 10 1/2