Clemson’s defense looked like anything but a Brent Venables’ coached defense during the second half of Saturday night’s game at Texas A&M.
Venables has made it his mission over the past several years to cut down on allowing big plays, and the Tigers have done so while routinely fielding top 10 units.
But Saturday, the Aggies had receivers running wide open throughout the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter as the Aggies cut into Clemson’s two-touchdown lead.
Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond passed for 206 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone against the Tigers. Clemson had not allowed a quarterback to pass for 200 yards in an entire game in the previous five games dating back to last year against Florida State.
“We didn’t finish on defense. We’ve gotta play four quarters,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said during his Sunday teleconference. “We played probably as good a first half as you can play. But we just did not finish. Just way too many busts, and big play busts. Definitely a lot of room for improvement. We’re not a great team yet. Great teams improve, and I think we will.”
Swinney added that the busts were on linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties and explained the biggest reason for the miscues.
The Aggies passed for 430 yards total.
“The biggest thing is poor eyes. That’s the number one thing I’d say,” Swinney said. “Some of the busts were just basic calls. Our eyes weren’t on the right things. Just really frustrating … We’ve got to increase our focus. We’re very, very fortunate that we were able to overcome it. But we’ve got to improve. We’ve got to take care of the things that we can control.”
INJURY REPORT. Tight end Garrett Williams missed Saturday’s game after getting banged up last week during practice.
Swinney is hopeful Williams will be able play this weekend against Georgia Southern.
“They actually cleared him to go last night during pregame, but we ended up holding him, but he banged his knee up last week. I think it was Wednesday practice inside, period. So we didn’t think he was going to be able to go, but they actually cleared him. He did not get in the game, but hopefully, he’ll be able to go this week,” Swinney said. “He’s a big loss. He’s a great player. Milan (Richard) graded a winner. He had a few missed blocks. But definitely not having Garrett doesn’t make us better, that’s for sure.”
The Tigers are otherwise pretty healthy at this point.
“We came out of the game healthy in a really hard, physical game. Our guys came through in good shape,” Swinney said.