Secondary will have to be better than last year

Zach Lentz

CLEMSON—The Clemson Tigers secondary was torched by Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond last season, as the Tigers gave up 430 yards through the air — including 330 yards passing in the second half vs. Texas A&M—in a game that left nation and the Tigers were left scratching their heads.

However, a year later, Swinney believes that it was the details that allowed the Aggies to rally from a 28-13 deficit through three quarters to score 13 points in the final quarter, and ultimately bringing them within a two-point conversion of sending the game to overtime.

"We weren't smart late. We were fine for three and a half quarters, but all of a sudden we lost our minds," Swinney said. "(Mond) found his receivers. They made some competitive plays, but there were some where we didn't have anyone in the zip code. We just learned details. Now, we were young this time last year. We felt great about our corners but were inexperienced at safety."

That belief was echoed by defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who said that the Tigers' issues were "discipline issues."

"It's just discipline issues and getting the little things right. It's a great learning tool," Venables said. "It's a tough win.

"I don't think we played as well as we're capable of without any stretch, particularly in the second half. Think that goes without saying."

This season, the Tigers are hoping that their experience from last season, as well as a more mature secondary will yield different results than they experienced last season in College Station. 

"The whole back seven ... we like the guys we've got," Swinney said. "We think they are a strength for us. (Texas A&M is)` going to make some plays on us. Our corners will have to win some matchups. We just have to be positioned better. Our confidence is good, but this will be a challenge ... for sure. It starts with being able to hold up on the run. If you can't do that, with their play action, it creates distortion for your coverage."