Clemson University

Clemson defenders: We don’t need a chain to want to create turnovers

Clemson OC Jeff Scott recaps South Carolina, previews Miami

Tigers face Miami in ACC title game Saturday
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Tigers face Miami in ACC title game Saturday

The Miami coaching staff gives its players the now famous turnover chain when a Hurricanes defender forces a turnover.

So what do Clemson players get from Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables when they force one?

“He gives us a high-five,” defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence said Monday. “We’re not that fancy.”

Winning the turnover margin could be the difference for Clemson on Saturday night in the ACC championship game.

The Hurricanes are third nationally in turnovers forced with 29 and lead the nation in turnover margin, having committed only 12.

Clemson has forced 16 turnovers on the year but eight of those have come in the past four games. The Tigers say they have plenty of incentive to force turnovers even without the added bonus of getting to wear a shiny piece of jewelry.

“It doesn’t really matter to us. It’s cool that they have it. It helps them play well, I guess. I don’t think we need anything like that around here to create turnovers or to make turnovers a priority,” defensive end Austin Bryant said. “We make turnovers a priority every week… That’s something that we harp on around here, but we just don’t have the flash of the chain on Saturdays.”

In addition to excelling at creating turnovers lately, the Tigers have done a nice job protecting the ball all year, particularly away from home.

In five road games, Clemson has committed three turnovers, and two of those came in the fourth quarter Saturday at South Carolina when the Tigers had a comfortable lead.

“We have a philosophy that if we protect the ball, we win. That’s just a mindset that our guys have,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “Regardless of anything else in the game, if we don’t turn the ball over, we win. That’s kind of been one of the things that we live by and part of our process of winning. Our guys have bought into that.”

Miami has created at least two turnovers in six consecutive games and is averaging 3.5 turnovers forced per game during that time period.

The Hurricanes have gained at least one turnover in every game this year.

“A good number of them and really the majority of them, they caused. They do a good job of tackling the ball as they’re tackling the ball carrier, being very specific with their hands trying to knock the ball out,” Scott said. “And then I think the interceptions are a combination of their scheme being unpredictable. They’ve got guys roaming around a little bit unorthodox in some of their coverages that have created some issues for some quarterbacks they’ve faced.”

Scott sees similarities between Miami’s defense and the one the Tigers face in practice and hopes that experience will help.

“They remind me a lot of our guys that we go against every day,” Scott said. “Whenever I watch their defense, I see our defense out there. A lot of similarities at each position.”

ACC championship

Who: Clemson (11-1) vs. Miami (11-1)

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte