Venables Pleased With Grinders At Safety


As Clemson opened spring practice, one of the biggest questions on the defensive side of the ball pertained to replacing three of the teams four starting defensive backs. 

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is being tasked with replacing both starting safeties, as well as one of the two starting corners before the 2020 season kicks off against Georgia Tech on September 3rd.

Through the early portion of spring, before it was canceled due to the threat of COVID-19, Venables had been pleased with what he had seen from his young safeties. He feels like the Tigers have plenty of talent to work with, and isn't overly concerned about the lack of experience.

"The skill set is there," Venables said. "We've got length and instincts, and good speed. Guys can cover. We feel like we got good range so we're not limited in what we can do in the back end. Again, a group of guys that are very coachable, that put in a lot of work so far."

One thing Venables had been overly impressed by is the players willingness to put in the work. While it wasn't all good, he was pleased with the guys ability to keep moving forward, even after a bad day on the practice field.

"We've been blessed for the most part," Venables said, "to have guys that haven't been distracted and they're willing to put the work in. Again, stick to it when success doesn't happen right away. You have a bad day, come back and fight harder. That's what it's all about."

Through the early part of the spring, players had been working on the little things. Venables stresses the fundamentals, and his players know he has a recipe that has been very successful.

"We're really just trying to get better at the fundamentals," Venables said. "Understanding what we do, rolling in a lot of guys in and out at all three levels, and chemistry and cohesion and the re-establishment, if you will, that will take place over time."

The Tigers defensive coordinator thinks he has a group of grinders. His players know they can't just show up and go through the motions, on or off the field. Success is in the details, and Venables had seen a focus on the little things. 

"It's been a group of guys that are very willing to put the time in," Venables said. "Because you got to put the time in. You can't just show up and by osmosis become a good player. You got to really grind and it's got to go well beyond the practice field. The weight room, and the film room, and all the extras."

The Tigers have a system in place that has seen the team make five consecutive playoff appearances, and win two national titles in the last four years. Earning time in that type of program is a process, and Venables thinks that while inexperienced, his group on the back-end is certainly capable of keeping the run going.

"It's a process, and it's a commitment, and it's consistency, but it's exciting," Venables said. "Like I said, it's a really, again, a talented group of guys that have a humility about them, and so far seems to have a toughness about them. Because it's tough what we ask them to do. All those things play a part in that. The guys that can do that, the teams that can do that, at the end of the spring, at the end of the summer, you're going to have a chance to win a bunch of games."