'I like to look at the negatives'

CLEMSON - When it comes to evaluating his defense's game tape, Brent Venables is a glass half-empty kind of guy.

"I like to look at the negatives," he said. "And that doesn't always come out the right way."

Given the lack of success that Clemson has had against Georgia Tech over the last few years, there were plenty of good things for Venables to look at after Thursday night's performance.

But there's a time and place for all of that stuff, and it's already come and gone.

"We've congratulated our players, pleased with their effort, pleased with their work, pleased with the leadership, pleased with the toughness, there's a lot to be pleased with, " he said. "But that had an opportunity to be a real special performance."

Georgia Tech accumulated 31 points, 440 yards of total offense -- 248 on the ground and 192 through the air.

"It was a solid performance, don't get me wrong, but it had a chance to be a special performance," Venables said. "With a couple of third-down conversions, getting off the field when we had the opportunities where I didn't feel like we were out-executed as much as we just made some very fundamental mistakes.

"A couple of third-downs on drives, particularly in the second half, which led to touchdowns, each and every one. They had three touchdown drives in the second half. One was a 65-yarder. The last drive, they had 60 yards."

All in all, it wasn't a bad night for the Tigers' defense, outside of those nine plays.

"Then, you look at 120-plus yards the rest of the night, that's really pretty good. But those plays did happen," Venables said. "So we've worked hard at trying to find why and make the improvement. If you want to be an elite defense and a great defense, you can't have those breakdowns during the course of the game."

They'll have a chance to see if it worked on Saturday when The Citadel brings its version of the triple-option to Clemson. There will be some carry-over from Georgia Tech.

"Obviously, their option philosophy is the same, probably the delivery, at times, is a little bit different," Venables said. "They're just a little bit [more] diverse in the presentation. But, again, you still have dive, quarterback and pitch, so we'll still have to play the same disciplined, physical, technique-driven focus that we did last week.

"I said it 100 times, but if something breaks down in that process, they'll move the ball up and down the field on us. We'll have to play with a great deal of urgency and the same type of toughness and focus that we had a week ago."

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