Clemson defense continues warming trend
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — You would never know by Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ intense sideline demeanor and occasional chair toss, but for the second straight game a once-suspect Clemson defense showed growth.
Even without both starting cornerbacks who were out with injuries — Darius Robinson and Bashaud Breeland — Clemson did not get beat downfield by Wake quarterback Tanner Price, who was a 3,000-yard passer last season and had his top target back in Michael Campanaro.
Clemson corner Garry Peters was targeted early and often downfield but the secondary held up.
The secondary was aided by a front four that was again active and disruptive as it had been against Virginia Tech.
Of course, context is needed. Wake entered the game a mere 94th in the country in scoring offense but Clemson’s defense did not miss as many assignments or tackles against a Wake team that is creative with formations.
To demonstrate growth consider that Clemson struggled at times in its 45-31 win at Boston College on Sept. 29. The first quarter was the Tigers’ first scoreless opening quarter against an FBS team this season.
It’s not the New England Patriots’ offense but Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris found ways to get touchdown passes for two tight ends. Brandon Ford (Hanahan High School) and backup Sam Cooper scored in the first half.
Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a 48-yard field goal, ending his program-best streak of 20 straight field goals made. His last miss came last season against Wake Forest.
The Tigers had only nine sacks coming into the game but totaled five Thursday (four in the first half). Defensive end Malliciah Goodman recorded his second sack in as many games.
Thursday night: 3-9
Clemson improved to 3-9 in Thursday night games. The other wins came against Temple in Charlotte (2006) and at N.C. State (2005).
Shuey still starts
Spencer Shuey started his second straight game at middle linebacker in place of former five-star prospect Stephone Anthony, who again came off the bench.