We’ll see some first rate defensive minds at work this September, when Georgia faces Clemson.
Brent Venables met with the media for the first time this spring and had a lot to say about his defense. For me, the most interesting comments were his look back at what went wrong in Clemson’s last game:
— On what went wrong vs. Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl:
“Wasn’t anything worth a flip… the preparation, the game plan. You burn it all. We did a poor job of having our guys prepared. We got physically worked on the line of scrimmage. They got after us on all three levels. We were out-physicaled. They established the run early and set up play-action. We let guys run by us and through us. We didn’t set the edge all day. We got knocked off the ball.
“It was a humbling experience. A lot of self-evaluation. I think the most important thing we do in the out-of-season and what we’ve tried to emphasize in spring ball is improving our physicality at all three levels.
“We have to improve our ability to stop the run. Improving our run fundamental is where it all starts. I think we are going to be stronger up the middle of our defense this year. I’ve seen that improvement, probably the most improvement I’ve seen from any two guys on our defense is Tyler Davis and Bryan Bresee. They’ve had terrific springs. If we are going to be what we all hope we can be going into next year man, it starts with those guys.”
— On alignment/pre-snap stuff vs. Ohio State:
“There were a few times we didn’t get lined up fast enough, but I think more than anything else they were more physical and we didn’t set the edge and we got knocked off the ball. When our safeties started getting over-aggressive, they threw it over us. We didn’t stop the run and did a poor job containing the quarterback. Guys trying to do too much. It was a bad night in every way. Every way.”
No doubt they looked bad. No doubt Venables will use that to motivate himself and his players to redeem themselves in Charlotte.
Also, no doubt Smart and Monken have looked at that game and very much want to establish the run. We’ll see who gets whom.
Speaking of not setting the edge, here’s an interesting Xs-and-Os discussion from Smart about how he and Venables deploy their inside linebackers. Note how he uses an example of an Ohio State running play to make one of his points: