What has the Clemson football defense looked like to this point in the 2019 season? Here’s our Midseason Defensive Report for the Tigers.
The Clemson football defense has shown the ability to reload, led by the mastermind that is Brent Venables.
Coming into the 2019 Clemson football season, everyone had doubts about the Tiger defense. Losing the likes of Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Trayvon Mullen and others, it was expected that the defense would take a significant drop-off.
Even the most positive Clemson football fans believed the group would take a hit. So far, however, the unit has been absolutely solid through the first five games of the season.
2019 Midseason Defensive Report:
Even though the defense certainly misses Wilkins and Lawrence among others, the cupboard isn’t bare and Brent Venables has absolutely reinvented the unit.
Clemson has operated in multiple schemes to this point, but potentially the most effective is a 3-man front where Venables elects to bring pressure from the second level. The Tigers have totaled 19 sacks, which is good enough for 7th in the nation, and have created pressure in all types of ways.
In terms of total defense, Clemson is ranked No. 8 in the country, allowing just 3.94 yards per play. The Tigers have allowed a total of 60 points- an average of 12 points per game- this season and much of that has come towards the end of games when they have been decided.
Isaiah Simmons has been an absolute monster to this point and freshman DT Tyler Davis has created pressure up the middle. The Tigers are still working through a rotation of five defensive ends and we’ve seen four (Xavier Thomas, KJ Henry, Justin Foster, Logan Rudolph) receive about the same amount of snaps through the first part of the season.
The secondary has given up a few big plays, but for the most part has been much-improved from last season.
The UNC game tested the defense and showed that they’re not invincible. The rushing defense has some areas to improve and the Tigers need their linebackers to come away with tackles in the open field.
Overall, though, you have to feel good about this Clemson football defense heading into the rest of the season. They’ve faced some decent offensive attacks and Venables has come out on top in each contest. This unit will only get better as the season progresses and they develop chemistry, and I don’t expect a drop-off in their play moving forward.