Q&A with John Lovett (Part II)

"David Dunham is making steady progress. He's a work at it guy. You'd like him bigger, faster, and with more experience, but he gives us the reps to get the job done. He's better than what we had last year backing up so let's put it that way," said Clemson defensive coordinator John Lovett.

Bottom line, how do you guys stop Wake Forest this weekend?
Lovett: Well, it's assignment football. They got an inside running play, and outside threat, so you have to got to have all of your gaps filled, and then you have to handle the reverse, and the potential for a pass off of that reverse. It if was just a divide zone with no possibility of a reverse, then everyone could just converge in the backfield, but see you can't do that. That's how they slow the defense down by making it assignment football. If you are just out of place a little bit, it hurts you big.

Do they pick at certain personnel too on your defense from what you've seen of them on film?
Lovett: Well, I don't know that they look at Justin Miller or Tye Hill over there and try to throw at those guys. I think what they do is they see how you line up by front and go where they think they have an advantage. And then they gear it that way. In other words, they'll ask, 'how are they defending this formation and how do they adjust?' If they find something that's not working for them then they'll go away from that. That's how they do it. It's very similar to other offenses, but because they make you assignment oriented it creates a problem because it slows down some of your guys on defense because they have to stay in position for a certain period of time before they can go and do something else.

That's almost like teaching a kid to do the opposite of what he's taught isn't it?
Lovett: Right, that's why when you play an option team or somebody like this, it's assignment football and it makes you have to be very disciplined in what you do. That's why you have to go over it and over it and over it again. If a guy is a little off on a particular running play and it could possibly go for big yardage, and that's what you want to eliminate.

What's the reward in a game like this of sending extra pressure in the backfield?
Lovett: I think what you need to do is when you pressure this guy, you need to be able to still defend your assignments. I haven't seen anybody come after this guy, because the risk factor is too high. They've got too many ways to really get you. We'll come after him some to get some hits on him, but we have to still cover the option and cover that divide zone play at the same time.

There's a couple of back ups starting to play more in David Dunham and Gaines Adams, can you comment on their play?
Lovett: Dunham is making steady progress. He's a work at it guy. You'd like him bigger, faster, and with more experience, but he gives us the reps to get the job done. He's better than what we had last year backing up so let's put it that way. You feel a lot better with him in there because he can make some plays for you. Gaines is various situations is very good, but he still does some freshman things. He jumped out of a gap a couple of times last week trying to go do something. That's freshman inexperience, which happens you know. Last week was a tough game for Gaines because all of sudden something happens, and he gets too excited. They are going to make some plays on offense, but he has to learn that he doesn't need to do something he's not supposed to do because we can't account for that on defense. It's 11 playing as 1 and he and all of the other young guys need to understand that. We just have to make sure that those kids are playing like that, 11 as 1.

The sense was last year that there were some guys on defense that were more worried about themselves and not playing the "11 as 1" as you called it. Was that the case?
Lovett: I don't want to say that there were individuals. There is a more of a sense of team this year, plus there's more of a sense of when we call a defense since we've been coaching here, this is how we want things done. That's what we demand out of the kids. They've been in a system of doing that. We are telling them not to put an "S" on their chest and do something stupid. That wasn't happening last year, and we had guys that we couldn't get them to continually do that play after play. That's just newness to the system and newness to me. We had guys in different positions and they didn't really know how to play those positions. But when you talk about playing defense, you talk about team first. They all have to believe in one another. You have a year to kind of sink that in a little bit and they are starting to think about it more.

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