Defense making significant strides

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Brent Venables had plenty of reasons to feel good after Saturday's 59-10 win over Virginia.

For starters, Clemson improved to 8-1. But that kind of goes without saying, winning is always atop the list of priorities.

In the 59-10 win, the Tigers forced three turnovers and gave up just 277 yards of total offense. The Cavs went 6-for-22 on third-down and had eight drives of 3-and-out.

Aside from the 8-play, 52-yard first quarter touchdown drive by Virginia, Venables' crew was near flawless.

But it's what happened after that 6-yard touchdown run by David Watford that added to Venables' thoughts on the mettle of the Tigers' defense.

"I like [them] responding and them playing consistently at a good level for three and a half quarters-plus, and we continue to get stops, to get off the field and stay engaged in the game, play intense for 60 minutes," Venables said. "That was important. If you're going to be an elite team, if you're a really good team, if you're a really good player, if you're a good unit, you keep getting better as the year goes on."

"Today, I saw us make progress."

It's darn near impossible to argue against that.

"There is nothing more pleasing, as a coach, than seeing your guys get a little bit better, because that's what the good teams do. Nothing is more displeasing than to see guys regress," Venables said, pausing.

"So, knock on wood, haven't seen that."

And he hasn't seen his team lose on the road in a long time. Clemson has won its last eight games on the road, the longest streak since the 9-game run from 1978-79.

"Just love coming on the road with a road dog kind of mentality, having a little edge to you, having to create your own energy and take any kind of life out of the crowd that might be there," Venables said. "That's not easy to do. That's very under-valued, to be able to come onto the road and play well, so it's pleasing."

Now, he has over a week to prepare for the Paul Johnson offense, which put up 276 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a win over Pitt on Saturday night. Venables and crew will take on the Yellow Jackets' option attack at home on Thursday, the 14th.

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