Clemson University

The biggest concern for Brent Venables after Clemson’s defense struggled vs. USC

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney previews ACC championship game

Tigers will face Pitt Saturday night in Charlotte
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Tigers will face Pitt Saturday night in Charlotte

Brent Venables met with the media Monday afternoon, two days after Clemson’s defense had one of its worst performances in school history in a 56-35 win against South Carolina.

The Tigers’ defensive coordinator used words like “disgusted” and “embarrassed” to describe Clemson’s performance following Saturday night’s game after the Tigers allowed 510 passing yards and five touchdowns to the Gamecocks. Venables didn’t walk back his words Monday after watching the tape.

He also explained his biggest concern from the game.

“The things that frustrated you was just some of our alignments, whether we were too deep or too wide, we don’t have the kind of leverage that we needed to based on the calls,” Venables said. “That happened enough early to get them in a rhythm and put them in scoring position.”

Venables added that most of the mistakes were mental.

On the first drive of the game, Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell lined up offsides on third down, keeping USC’s drive alive. The Tigers also struggled getting lined up correctly in the secondary.

“Some of our alignments were asinine. I wish I had a megaphone or unlimited timeouts, because those are things you saw from the sideline that you can’t do,” Venables said.

“We’ve got a cover two call and we don’t run with the seam route. Then the quarterback finds him late across the middle,” Venables said. “This is Week 12. Those are basic, fundamental things ... There are 70 plays that look pretty dang good. But there was an abomination on those other 10-12 plays. They made a few plays, too. Give them credit.”

The success that Jake Bentley, Deebo Samuel and the rest of the South Carolina offense had was a big surprise to Venables, Dabo Swinney and Clemson’s entire team.

The Tigers had not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter all season before USC put seven points on the board on its first drive, and Clemson’s first team defense had not allowed a touchdown since September.

Venables was not upset that Clemson didn’t make the spectacular plays. He was just frustrated the Tigers did not make basic plays.

“They get a little bunch set early in the game into the boundary, and there’s no autonomy about, ‘Do I come under the block our outside the block?’ Against every single body we play, every single practice we’re at, every drill we work, you’re outside. Your help’s inside. And we go under and they gained 15,” Venables said. “We played so ignorant at times, where it just makes no sense. But that’s ours and we’ve got to own it and we’ve got to correct it.”

Venables was pleased with the way Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Albert Huggins, A.J. Terrell, Trayvon Mullen and Kendall Joseph played. And the mistakes that were made he believes are correctable before the Tigers play Pitt this weekend.

“Our guys have been humble. They’ve worked hard. We didn’t play well and coach well enough, obviously. We played well enough to win. We did enough good things to win. We’re not sitting here tooting our horn about it, but you’ve gotta have perspective,” Venables said. “We weren’t doing a lot of basic, fundamental, easy, things, particularly in coverage. There’s a lot more video evidence, and we know who we are. For whatever reason, we just didn’t have them ready to play like we needed to, just doing some easy, fundamental things.”