No. 3 Clemson vows better defensive performance vs Gamecocks
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables just can’t forget what happened against South Carolina a year ago.
The Tigers had one of their worst defensive performances in Venables’ tenure when they hosted the Gamecocks — and he is ensuring his players remember the effort as well.
Clemson, about six weeks before winning the national championship last year, gave up 600 yards and five passing TDs to the Gamecocks in a 56-35 Tigers’ win. South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley threw for 510 yards and set off a panic.
“Yeah, we didn’t play well,” Venables said this week. “That never sits well with you, so you try and learn from failures and how you prepare.”
Clemson fans expected their Tigers to crush their state rivals, who instead threw a scare into the College Football Playoff-bound Tigers.
The Tigers (11-0) are looking to redeem themselves this week. Clemson is looking for its 27th straight win and second straight 12-0 regular season when they play the Gamecocks (4-7).
South Carolina and Clemson were both off last week and Tiger defenders have spent part of the past two weeks watching — and re-watching — last year’s game tape.
“That was super embarrassing for us as a back seven,” said Clemson safety Tanner Muse. “We just can’t let something like that happen again. That’s just not who we are.”
Muse, a senior, painfully broke down the film. He said the Tigers were too slow getting pressure on Bentley, who set personal career highs with five touchdown throws and in passing yards. Muse said technique was shoddy at times, allowing for passes to areas that were supposed to be covered. He added that tackling when the Tigers had a chance to limit the damage was also inconsistent.
South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel, now with the San Francisco 49ers, had 10 catches for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Samuel’s teammate Shi Smith had 109 yards. For Clemson to allow a pair of 100-yard receivers is unthinkable in Venables’ lock-down world.
“Human nature is when you feel like you’re playing well is to take one hand off the wheel,” Venables said. “Bad things can happen.”
There seems to be little chance of more bad things happening to Clemson in this one.
The Tigers are second nationally to Ohio State with 128 yards passing allowed per game. Bentley, South Carolina’s starting quarterback, has been out since week one with a foot fracture. The Gamecocks rank 67th in passing yardage and with freshman Ryan Hilinski leading the offense, South Carolina has only 12 touchdown passes this season.