Brent Venables Expects Clemson Defense To Be Tested By Virginia

JP-Priester

Three games into the season, and college football fans will already be getting a rematch of last year's ACC Championship Game.

Clemson dismantled Virginia in that game last season, but it wasn't all bad for the Cavaliers. Their offense had some early success moving the ball, before the Tigers made some adjustments on the defensive side of the ball and cruised to a 62-17 win. 

Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall loses a lot from that explosive offense from last season, including second team All-ACC quarterback Bryce Perkins, but Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables has tremendous respect for how far the program has come in the last few seasons.

"Obviously Virginia's an experienced team coming back, they've got the same staff," Venables said Saturday. "I'm sure they tweaked some things, added some new wrinkles, and things like that. I know they feel really good about their personnel, get most of their offensive line back and a big time transfer tight end, it was from Central Michigan I believe."

As the No. 1 Tigers head into their bye week, the Cavaliers are preparing for Duke. It will be their first game of the chaotic season after the Cavaliers opener against Virginia Tech scheduled for last weekend was pushed back due to Covid-19 concerns in the Hokies athletic department. 

Redshirt sophomore Brennan Armstrong is set to make his first career start at quarterback for the Cavaliers this weekend against the Blue Devils. The left-handed dual threat quarterback has appeared in 11 games over the past two seasons backing up Perkins, going 17-25 through the air for 258 yards and rushing the ball 16 times for 93 yards.

The Cavaliers have also added Shane Simpson at running back, a graduate transfer from Towson. He missed most of last season injured but was an FCS All-American in 2018.

"They feel really good about their quarterback, athletic, tough, great leader," Venables said. "Some really good other transfers at skill position, at running back, and they played in the Orange Bowl. It's a confident team with a good culture, an established program."

Mendenhall is one of the more well-respected coaches in the country. Heading into his fifth season as the Cavaliers head coach, he has improved on the previous seasons win total for three straight years, and Venables is fully expecting to get Virginia's best shot when they come to town on October 3.

"They've done a great job, you know, we've got a lot of respect for Virginia's staff and what they've done in developing the program the right way through player development, recruiting, and developing a culture. And so they got an excellent spread offense, you know that tempos you, and lots of motions and things like that."

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