Tuesdays with Brent Venables

CLEMSON - Defensive coordinator Brent Venables talks about the second half of the 2012 season.

Did the bye week come at a good time for you?
Venables: It did come at a good time. Early in the year, you like to have one in the first few weeks to evaluate where you are at…that being said, all things considered now, looking at how this thing sets up, it actually came at a very, very good time. Whether it's trying to get some guys healed up. Same thing, trying to evaluate your personnel and the things that you've got to work. You get two weeks to work on all the stuff we need to work on. So, yeah, it came at a good time.

Can you say with some conviction that this defense will be better?
Venables: I hope to. That's what I expect to. I'd be surprised if we weren't>

What are some of the reasons why?
Venables: I just think more maturity in the system. Some of the young guys getting more experienced. The things that we've had time to take a deep breath and emphasize when you have a little bit more time…we'll find out things that they can't do very well against some things that they can do very well. I said all along that our experienced guys have got to play at a consistent level. The young guys continue to grow within the system. If that takes place here with the last part of the season, I think we'll see a dramatic improvement.

Are there any personnel changes?
Venables: No.

How would you evaluate how Travis Blanks did at safety?
Venables: He did real well. I think he'll be a guy that -- I wish we didn't have to float him, but he gives us quality depth at a couple of positions. Ideally, your football team is built that way, without having to play guys at multiple positions. In fairness to him, typically, that would happen with an older guy. We feel like he gives us the best options with what he's doing, both there at safety and our nickel versus the spread.

Quandon Christian's come along, played well the last three or four weeks, at a level that I would expect him to.

How have your ends been?
Venables: We don't have a lot of numbers there. It's not like we're holding something back, in regards to a young player that just needs to come along. We need to play better there. They recognize that. It's been addressed. I thought Corey Crawford, the last couple of weeks, has done some things -- playing with more urgency, just showing up. We need to continue to demand and get more production from those guys. When those guys can do that, help set the edge, it really takes the stress off in a lot of different ways.

is that the most disappointing area?
Venables: I don't know. There are a lot of areas that I'm not pleased with. That's one of a number of them.

How are the young d-tackles improving?
Venables: D.J. [Reader] has played a little bit more. Carlos has made improvement. He's not quite the same level. That maturation, he's not that far off, either. So, a lot of it is fundamentals and understanding of everything around him, where things become second nature, where he can really turn it loose and play.

D.J. is a little bit more physical ready play. Although Carlos is a big guy, D.J., his physicalness, plus his fundamentals, technique, his ability to move and change direction, because things happen really fast. The closer you get to the line of scrimmage, the less margin for error there is for small, subtle mistakes, whether that's hand placement, your eyes, your footwork. When you make a mistake close to the line of scrimmage, it can be catastrophic.

What are your thoughts on Logan Thomas?
Venables: Big, strong, huge arm. Good composure, good leader, kind of the strength of their offense, just in regards to that leadership. Obviously, they're running a lot of no huddle. They're putting a lot on him in navigating and managing that. A great deal of experience in winning, probably a great deal of confidence, as an individual. He's a big strong guy that's hard to tackle in some of their designed quarterback runs.

Have you seen much of a progression in their hurry up?
Venables: I don't know…I think they've got some playmakers. I think they've found who their playmakers are. They have some good young backs. Four is a really explosive guy. I think they have three quality receivers in 83, 7 and 11. All guys that can stretch the field and make plays. I think they've done a really good job. They've had some issues up front with graduation and some injuries. I think last week indicative, they found some ways to give them an opportunity to be successful. They had some explosive plays that really turned the game around, both through the air and on the ground.

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