The Clemson defense needs to prove they can get the stops they’ll need against a Bulldog offense that is expected to be really good.
The Tigers have had a number of questions to ponder over the offseason and one of the biggest of those was what defensive coordinator Brent Venables would do to make sure his squad would be better. Yes, Clemson got their sixth straight ACC Championship and another trip to the College Football Playoff but, as Ohio State proved, the defense was not without issues.
It was a very young group that suffered through many bumps and bruises like losing both Justin Foster and Xavier Thomas who were both expected to start at defensive end. Foster missed the entire season with Covid related issues that even had him give up football before getting clearance from his doctors to return this season. Thomas only had some limited action due to multiple offseason illnesses himself and though he did play in seven games, he only started one (119 snaps total).
Those bumps and bruises have now turned them into a seasoned and veteran defense stacked with depth that’s full of next-level talent. Good enough that even after next level talented cornerback Derion Kendrick left for Georgia the Tigers secondary still could be one of the best in college football.
It’s a defense that’s even gotten high praise from Bulldog head coach Kirby smart when he spoke to Connor Riley of DawgNation recently.
“They are really talented, probably one of the best defenses I have ever seen returning in terms of number of starts and number of games played,” Smart stated. “The volume of experience is unmatched anywhere and anytime and I have been in college football a long time, just in terms of how much football those guys have played.”
This is also a defense that some feel has a chance to be better than the well loved “Power Rangers.” That defense was comprised of Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Bryant, and Clelin Ferrell. Saturday will also be their first opportunity since their horrendous outing against the Buckeyes to show the world just how great they can be against an offense that some feel could do great things in the SEC this season.
The ultimate goal is not only another ACC championship and continuing their streak of playoff appearances but also getting their fourth overall national title. That begins on defense in their top five matchup in Charlotte this Saturday.
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