No one could blame the Clemson Tigers if their defense took a step back in 2020. They have had nine players from that side of the ball selected in the past two NFL drafts. Despite all the personnel losses, Brent Venables‘ unit just keeps on dominating. They smothered the Miami Hurricanes this past weekend during their 42-17 blowout victory. The Tiger defense just reloads with talent each off season, regardless of how much they lose from the previous campaign.
New Stars Emerge for Clemson Tiger Defense
Venables joined this program in 2012, as Clemson was trying to make the jump from good to elite. The Tiger defense has been among the best in the nation since his arrival. His team plays with a relentless aggression, but they are also extremely disciplined and prepared. There were times versus the Hurricanes that it appeared Clemson knew exactly what their opponent as trying to do. This defense is rarely out of position, and they play a downhill attacking style. Over the past few seasons they’ve lost talented players to the NFL regularly, but there are always replacements ready for their time to shine. The 2020 Tiger defense is no different, as multiple players have already begun to step up through the first four games of the season.
In The Trenches
Last season Clemson had to replace all four starters along the defensive line. While the new group was solid, the play making and star power was lacking a little bit. That is not the case this year. The defensive line was wreaking havoc on Miami’s previously high powered offense all night long. Tyler Davis is a very disruptive force along the inside of the line. It can be difficult for interior lineman to put up the eye catching numbers associated with star players, but if you watch Davis play it’s easy to see his impact.
The Tiger defense has also got a few guys emerging on the edge ot the defensive line. They had 47 sacks as a team a season ago. Through four games this year they have already gotten to the quarterback 18 times. Freshman Myles Murphy is second on the team in tackles, and has two and a half sacks. The 6’5” defensive end has frequented the opposition backfield early in his Clemson career. Sophomore K.J. Henry has also started make name for himself this season.
Ground To Cover
For the most part, the new play makers on this team are coming from the past few recruiting cycles in which this program has stockpiled high level talent. Veteran linebacker Baylon Spector is an anomaly in that regard. He wasn’t a top national recruit, and he has had to wait his turn to get the opportunity to showcase his ability. The Calhoun, GA native did just that this past weekend. He has been everywhere the last two ball games. Against Virginia and Miami, Spector amassed 18 tackles including four for a loss. He leads the Tiger defense in both categories through four games. Jake Venables has also begun to make some plays at linebacker. The coach’s son is stepping into a bigger role this season, and has proved capable so far.
No Fly Zone
Andrew Booth Jr. turned in the highlight play of the year with his remarkable one handed interception in the end zone versus Virginia. The sophomore is quickly gaining the reputation as a lock down corner that quarterbacks would be best to avoid throwing towards. It’s early in the 2020 campaign, but Booth has shown he can make the spectacular play along with being consistent in his coverage on a play by play basis. Sheridan Jones and Derion Kendrick will get plenty of chance to show what they can do as opposing offense look to avoid challenging Booth. After a decent performance against the Cavaliers, this secondary was dominant in the blow out of Miami. They held the Hurricanes to 121 yards through the air, and picked off D’Eriq King three times.
Tiger Defense Reloading
Once again Venables’ group is one of the best in the country. The Tiger defense is ranked in the top 11 nationally in both scoring defense and yards allowed per game. A lot of the play makers in orange and purple are underclassmen, so they will only improve with more game experience. That is a scary thought for the rest of the ACC and who ever they might face in the postseason. New stars are beginning to emerge on this defense, and they are even more just waiting for their chance to shine.