Week to week improvements

CLEMSON - Travis Blanks will be the first to admit that his first three games at free safety haven't been without error.

Currently tied for fifth on the team with 13 tackles, Blanks has yet to record a pass breakup or an interception this season.

An eight-game starter as a freshman, Blanks spent most of his 2012 season playing nickel back. He was moved to free safety during the spring.

On Monday, Blanks reminded reporters that there's a learning curve that comes with being a first-year starter at a new position. "Just playing 80 snaps a game and playing at a high, consistent level every single snap. That takes intensity. That takes great urgency. That takes great focus," he said. "Nothing can simulate it except for that itself."

Blanks has played 185 snaps, more than any other Clemson defender.

"You can't expect yourself -- a lot of people expect you to be at this point to where you don't make mistakes anymore, to where you're this Ed Reed safety," Blanks said. "You have to always keep things in perspective -- 19 years old, sophomore in college. What else do you expect?

"You're always learning. I feel like I've done well up to this point, but I have improvement to make."

Right beside him at strong safety is another first-year starter, Robert Smith.

"There will always be learning curves," Blanks said. "But I feel like Robert and I have continued to improve. I feel like we will continue to improve throughout the season, because we worked at it. [We're] two intelligent guys. We know the defense. You can expect improvement as we continue throughout the season."

That's what Clemson fans want. It's what Brent Venables expects.

Clemson enters this weekend's game against Wake Forest ranked 12th in the ACC in pass defense, giving up an average of 230.3 yards per game. The pass defense efficiency rating of 121.2 is eighth in the league.

In total defense, the Tigers are 12th in the league, yielding an average of 388 yards per game.

"We've been through a lot, coming from last year, coming from where we were last year," Blanks said, when asked about the Clemson defense. "We've continued to put one foot in front of the other, week by week. I think we will continue to improve if we stay the course."

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