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Clemson Looks To Slow Up-Tempo Deacons

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables called Wake Forest's up-tempo offense a challenge for his Tigers. The Demon Deacons led the nation averaging 81 players per game last season.

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said Wake Forest's up-tempo offense could present a challenge to his Tigers Saturday night.

"(Wake Forest) has been one of the fastest offenses in college football," Venables said in a press conference Monday. "They have a tremendous system and do a great job of coaching within the system. They are well-coached fundamentally, and the players are really smart."

Venables said the Demon Deacons have an answer for everything the defense can do on any given play.

"They have done a good of a job in this conference as anybody in coaching, developing players and putting them in a position to be successful," Venables said. "If they get into a rhythm offensively it can get you on your heels defensively."

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Wake Forest averaged 81 plays per game last season, leading the nation in that category while averaging 464 yards per game.

The leader of the Wake Forest offense will be quarterback Sam Hartman. Venables said he was able to get to know Hartman as a player when his son Jake and Hartman played in the Shrine Bowl together.

"I have a tremendous respect for (Hartman) as a leader and a player," Venables said. "He's a tough guy, very competitive with tremendous instincts. Sometimes you get those guys on the other side of the ball at quarterback and you can get in their head, he's not a guy that has any headcase issues."

Hartman played in just four games last season after throwing for nearly 2,000 yards in nine games as a freshman in 2018. That season, he finished 7-of-20 for 74 yards and an interception against the Tigers in Winston-Salem.

"Getting your hand in the dirt, playing with great technique, having guys where they belong, that to me is the way to give yourself a chance," Venables said. "That has been a challenge for us, but it will be for the entire year. Our offense runs tempo as well, and that prepares us for what we will see, but it's nothing like game day to get baptized. I'm excited to meet that challenge."