Clemson defense turns the page

CLEMSON - Three games into the season 2014 season and having faced one of the more difficult schedules in college football, Clemson's defense certainly looks the part.


Entering Saturday's game against North Carolina (2-1), the stats tell the story.

With road games against top-ranked Florida State and No. 12 Georgia in the rear view mirror, the Tigers are ranked 12th in the country in total defense, 33rd in run defense and 16th against the pass. Clemson is also 11th in the nation in third down conversion defense and 29th in red zone defense.

Perhaps the preseason discussion of this unit being one of the better defenses Clemson has fielded appears to be justified. Then again, how does the old saying go, "stats are for losers?"

Clemson tackle Grady Jarrett says there's plenty to feel good about when it comes to the Tigers on the defensive side of the ball, but there is work to be done as well.

"We feel like we dominated the game in all phases (against FSU)," he said. "We dominated the game we just didn't win on the scoreboard. So we've made incredible strides on defense. We know how we lost to Georgia in that fourth quarter and that wasn't us. "But you look how we held Florida State to negative rushing yards in regulation and what we did. So the goal is to continue to better and finish the season strong."

With North Carolina coming to town this weekend, the Tigers will be tested in different ways than they have been previously. The Tar Heels have incredible tempo on offense, and a variety of different weapons of their disposal.

UNC has also put up 56, 31 and 41 points in its 2-1 start and the Heels are first in the country in red zone offense as well.

When watching Larry Fedora's team on the film, it's easy to see his offense actually goes at a faster face than the Tigers.

"It is faster," said senior safety Robert Smith. "They present a lot of different problems for opposing defenses because they get the ball out of so many different receivers and they have three different backs back there too. We are getting ready for it."

And what the about the possibility of one loss beating a team twice?

Jarrett says the team has already turned the page past the overtime loss to the Seminoles and is fully focused on its next opponent.

"We had a good day of practice yesterday (Monday)," he said. "And I know what people are saying how we are going to try and take out our frustrations on North Carolina. But it's not about taking anything out on North Carolina. It's about doing what we do and playing Clemson football."


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