CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s defensive players are not happy with how they have been playing this season, and in response to how the Florida State game ended last Saturday, the veteran players on the unit decided enough is enough.
Before the fifth-ranked Tigers started prepping for Saturday’s ACC Atlantic Showdown with No. 14 Syracuse, a players-only meeting was called on the defensive side of the ball.
“Basically, within ourselves, we are trying to get this problem situated and trying to get it solved before it gets bad later in the season,” Clemson linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said on Tuesday.
Clemson (7-0, 5-0 ACC) gave up 460 yards of offense to the Seminoles in a 34-28 victory. The defense nearly gave up a 20-point lead, as FSU scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to make things interesting at the end.
The Tigers had to recover an onside kick to secure its 13th straight victory, dating back to last season.
“We are definitely going to handle it and it is going to be a situation that does not come up again,” Trotter said.
The Florida State game was not the first time the Clemson defense had a letdown this season. The Tigers struggled to slow down Furman. They allowed Louisiana Tech to sling the ball all over the field and Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman threw six touchdown passes on them.
In each of those games, and the FSU outing, they blew big leads and allowed the opposition to get back into the game and gain momentum.
“That has definitely been a big viewpoint that our coaches have been preaching and our defensive leaders have been preaching, too. Make sure we close out games and actually keep our foot on that gas pedal all the way throughout the game,” Trotter said.
One of Clemson’s biggest issues has been tackling. They missed a lot in the Florida State game, and it was an issue against Furman, as well, earlier in the season.
“(FSU) ran the ball on us so well because we missed assignments fitting the gaps and our tackling is something we have to make sure we focus on this week and get better at,” Trotter said.
The Clemson-Syracuse game is scheduled to kick off at noon this Saturday. It will be televised on ABC.
—photo courtesy of Clemson Athletic Communications