The dawg days of April

CLEMSON - Brent Venables didn't appear to be too upset as he walked off the field in Death Valley several minutes after all but two players and one other coach.

Venables hung around the 50-yardline near the visitor sideline with his freshmen linebackers, Dorian O'Daniel and Chris Register. Student assistant Justin Parker was there, but that's not uncommon, various players and coaches stay a few minutes late pretty frequently.

When he walked off on Wednesday, Venables had the sound of a guy who wasn't all thathappy about the last full day of practice before Saturday's spring game, the final team-related activity he'll be allowed to be part of until August.

Perhaps it had something to do with the monotony that can be the dying days of spring practice, but Venables was a little chippy with the questioners after saying so many good things about his guys for the last few weeks.

It could just as simple as this: Clemson's much ballyhooed defensive line had a bad practice on Wednesday.

"It's the most experienced we've had returning up front and that's really all it is right now," Venables said. "You want to play at a high level and have great success you've got to earn that every day through work. You can't cheat this game. You can't just show up and expect people to roll over.

"You've got to invest in the process, come with the right mindset, be on edge or you're going to get exposed. That happened out there today. It looked like we were playing the Green Bay Packers out there today."

As good as they have been and could be this in 2014, Venables doesn't care one bit for a practice like Wednesday's.

"I don't like it. I don't like it ever…I hope they can tell that. It's unacceptable. No, it's not OK," he said."If you sit there and accept it as a coach, that's probably what you're going to get, and you're going to get more of it, so disappointed in the lack of leadership this late in the spring, to come out and not have our guys ready to compete in practice.

"It starts with us, coaches. For our guys to fart around, they got after us on defense today, so it's not OK. I don't expect that, give them a mulligan."

The secondary this spring

Before practice, Dabo Swinney has raved about the secondary's play this spring. Venables offered a different stance.

"It's been pretty inconsistent," Venables said. "I don't know how much they've improved, this guy or that guy. Some guys have improved. Some guys have improved more than others. Some guys haven't improved as much as you like, so pretty inconsistent."

There have been two standouts in Venables' eyes, neither of which should come as surprises.

"Robert Smith has been really consistent, he's been real good. Mackensie [Alexander] has been pretty good," Venables said.

The battle for the safety spot opposite Smith is ongoing. Jadar Johnson has emerged as a threat to unseat Jayron Kearse.

"You could switch one for the other any day and probably get the same thing. It's a big competition there," Venables said.

Scrimmage review

Perhaps those guys on the d-line were still riding the high from Monday, when the Tigers' defense piled up the sacks and tackles for loss. For the most part, Venables seemed more up than down, when asked about his film review of Monday's scrimmage.

"There's a lot that was good, a lot real good in it," he said. "We let them poke a run through on the coming out drill, disappointing, turn it back loose on third-down one time, for a conversion. Missed a couple of fits here and there, we had good pressure, the front played well, I thought we forced a couple of turnovers, had 16, 17 tackles for loss. Thought it was good, still a few too many mistakes."

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