Good start for Venables in Tigertown

CLEMSON - The newest member of the Clemson coaching staff, defensive coordinator Brent Venables, talks about his first practice.

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Admittedly, there was a bit of an adjustment during his first practice with the Tigers.

"We do things, structurally, a little bit different. I just need to learn the routine. That's the biggest thing, because you're creatures of habit," Venables said. "When you've been used to doing a certain drill on a certain part of the field, it's been moved, so you're kind of a fish out of water, at times.

"Everybody else seemed to be doing just fine, at times. I'm just trying to find my way."

The former Oklahoma defensive coordinator is adjusting well, thank you very much.

Known across the college football landscape for his high energy, Venables had no issues when it came to involving himself in Wednesday's practice.

"He chases guys around," said head coach Dabo Swinney. "Heck, he gets in drills. He demonstrates in some of the drills himself. I think the guys feed off of that."

That's just Venables' personality. And he doesn't shy away from it.

"It's an emotional game. I coach with emotion and intensity," he said. "The players play and the coaches coach, but I love to compete and be around young people…you've got to coach with an edge, to a certain degree."

The players, Venables noted, responded well. But it was only the first day.


Travis Blanks could play cornerback, nickel back or safety for Clemson this fall. (Hale McGranahan)
"I think our guys know they're going to be judged on performance. It'll be a process. We won't know anything by the end of tonight's practice. We certainly won't know anything after today," Venables said. "By the end of the spring, I think some guys will start to separate themselves. It's a continual process. By the time we play Auburn, we'll have a starting 11 out there. The model of consistency is what we're looking for.

"The guys that show up every day, compete every day, consistently make plays, consistently know what to do; they give us good leadership -- that's kind of what we're looking for. As coaches, we try to foster and develop that, and coach that.

"Guys, by the end of the spring, by the end of the summer, by the end of fall camp, will have earned the right to play."

Three players with plenty of potential to earn the right to play, defensive end Malliciah Goodman, linebacker Stephone Anthony and defensive back Travis Blanks, were recipients of praise from Venables.

"I think, the beauty of what [Anthony] can do, is kind of based on what other guys can do. I do think, athletically, intelligently and instinctually, he can do a lot of things," Venables said. "He can do more than one thing. Some guys are just built to do a certain thing. I think the little bit that I know -- the little bit that I've seen, I think he gives you a little bit of flexibility."

"Blanks has a different type of skill set that way. I think Stephone does. A guy like Malliciah can do a lot of things. He's played a lot and played at a high level. He's very, very athletic for a big, long guy. So we'll see -- I'm sure there will be more names as we go through."

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