Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables and his Tigers defense believe that Alabama will make them earn every bit of success against them.
As the Tigers defense met the media on Thursday, they faced questions about Alabama’s late charge to the lead and how Deshaun Watson’s late drive bailed out an effort that almost crumbled them.
While Venables believes his unit has improved over the last three ballgames, he believes they will have to rise to another level against the Crimson Tide.
Venables mentioned the secondary, which has gained back most of its depth from the start of the season with the returns of CBs Mark Fields and Marcus Edmond.
Ryan Carter has been the stalwart in the back four, and he said they can’t have a repeat of last year’s output in order to win.
Every player who spoke Thursday spoke of the game being won in the trenches, which plays to the strength of Clemson on defense.
Three of four of the Tigers players on the defensive front are eligible for the NFL Draft, creating a potential swan song for DEs Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant and DT Christian Wilkins.
Ferrell believes Alabama brings the best running back corps he’s seen in his collegiate career, and takes the onus on his unit to try and neutralize them.
The player who has risen the most this year is LB Dorian O’Daniel, who finished as a Butkus Award Finalist this season after starting as a relative unknown on this unit.
He said he relishes the challenge of the increased attention he’s seen on the field, especially in the passing game.
Austin Bryant was supposed to meet the media as well today, but was excused as a result of an NCAA-mandated random drug test.
Clemson has its first practice on the campus of Tulane University Thursday, stay tuned to SportsTalk and South Carolina Radio Network for updates.