Clemson’s defense had to deep some deep soul searching after Florida State’s redshirt freshman quarterback and bevy of talented receivers picked them apart last month. If Saturday’s win over Virginia is evidence, the Tigers have successfully regrouped, just in time for the crucial stretch run of the season.
The Tigers limited Virginia to 277 total yards last Saturday and basically shut down quarterback David Watford holding him to 130 passing yards, about a third of what he passed for the previous week. And those pesky chuck plays that have plagued the Tigers, Virginia’s longest play from scrimmage was 27 yards. Throw in 8 three and outs and 3 interceptions, it was the kind of day defensive coordinator Brent Venables had been seeking all season.
Freshman safety Jayron Kearse had two of the biggest defensive plays of the game, both leading to late first half touchdowns that turned the game Clemson’s way. First he intercepted a pass and returned it to the Virginia 33. Then he stripped the ball away from a Virginia running back and Clemson recovered at midfield. Kearse continues to gain the confidence of the Clemson coaches and as a result is getting more snaps.
The Tigers are now fourth in the ACC in total defense allowing 364 yards per game.