Clemson Football: Defense Beginning to Show Fruits of Their Labor

By Colby Lanham

Yes, the slow start against the NC State Wolfpack was less than desirable. Yes, the offense didn’t put up the kind of production we’ve come to expect in Chad Morris‘ third year at the helm of the offense.

But they came through in the second half, and the Clemson Tigers can and will continue to do so. Trust Morris to right the ship that is his offense.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd didn’t have the sharpest first half, and it certainly hadn’t been the Boyd that Tiger fans are used to. However, what’s not being talked about too much is Clemson’s defense. On a night where the offense wasn’t quite in sync, the defense kept the Wolfpack out of the end zone.

Perhaps the most surprising story of the night outside of defensive end Vic Beasley‘s three sacks and rise as a playmaker was this: NC State quarterback Pete Thomas did not throw a single touchdown pass. That is the second time the Tigers have not allowed the opposing quarterback to throw a touchdown pass, with the first being Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray.

One of Clemson’s two ACC defensive players of the week in Stephone Anthony led all Tigers with 14 tackles. Anthony is quietly having a solid year in the middle of Clemson’s defense next to Spencer Shuey. Anthony is one of the Tigers’ leaders in tackles and has become a key part of that Clemson defense.

Outside of Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley, the combination of Shuey and Anthony has been a pivotal part of Clemson’s improved run defense. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables makes key halftime adjustments and gives opposing offenses different kinds of looks and blitzes from all sides. This defense has been most effective and balanced with its blitzing, an area in which Clemson’s linebackers particularly excel.

The knock on teams with spread offenses like Clemson is that their defenses aren’t strong, but Clemson is steadily trying to defy that norm. A team with an offense like Clemson’s plus a defense that can put pressure on opposing offenses is a recipe for a dangerous team.

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