ESPN Analyst Has Major Concerns About Clemson Defense

Paul Finebaum has taken a shot at Wes Goodwin’s defense ahead of Clemson’s Top 10 matchup with NC State.

It is true that four weeks into the season it can be said that the Clemson defense has not looked as strong as many expected. Finebaum believes it has a lot to do with former defensive coordinator Brent Venables leaving to become the head coach at Oklahoma and he made it clear on ESPN’s Get Up Friday morning with host Mike Greenberg along with ESPN.com senior writer Heather Denich.

“Well everything is just backed up and screwed up because the defense is not as good and the offense with DJ Uiagalelei is much better,” Finebaum said. “And you have to start wondering what the difference has been with Brent Venables having left. He was the stalwart of that defense at Clemson. Now he’s at Oklahoma, struggling there after a loss over the weekend. So I think that’s really the issue, and as far as what happens after this, they would be in big trouble if they can’t get a win at home.”

His last comment was in reference to the No. 5 Tigers Saturday night game against the No. 10 Wolfpack. The biggest thing about that, at this point, would have to be a “what if” question, though. What if the defensive team that everyone was raving about preseason hadn’t had to deal with the injuries they’ve had to key members, as well as life issues that affected at least one game for star defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, along with the rest of the team.

A tweet by Tim Bourret on September 19 says a lot about why this defense has had some of the struggles it has and would make some think it’s got more to do with missing pieces than the defensive coordinator. When you consider that over the last 3 seasons three of the Tigers’ top defensive players have only played together 6 times, that speaks volumes.

Now, Clemson should have at least two of those three for this game and will hope to have their starting defensive backs as well. That would be a huge help when NC State rolls into Memorial Stadium at 7:30PM for the first top 10 Textile bowl matchup on ABC.

That’s not saying that the defense can’t play better but having those starters out has not helped. Just thinking about how good this unit can be if all of these guys do get to play multiple games together is exciting.

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