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Swinney: Clemson DC Brent Venables scheme relies on more 'instincts'

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer
One of the biggest questions coming into Clemson's spring practice was the impact of new defensive coordinator Brent Venables. The former Oklahoma assistant coach arrives with high expectations, trying to get more on-field production from an inexperienced - but very talented - defense.

According to head coach Dabo Swinney, Venables' scheme for the Tigers will be much less complex than former defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

"We're just not asking as much from some of those guys as far as checks and things like that," Swinney said. "We are still going to have man coverage, but we are going to have some zone principles mixed in. They can use their eyes a little more, their instincts."

The greatest hinderance to the Tigers' defense in 2011 was giving up big plays. Clemson ranked last in the ACC in opponent scrimmage plays of 30+ and 40+ yards, often due to misreads or communication breakdowns. Steele's system was described by many as too complex, particularly for a team that was playing 20+ redshirt or true freshman on most Saturday's.

Stopping the big plays would be a big first step in improving a defense that gave up 394.4 yards per game last season. The unit does not get a ton of help from the offense, which has the potential to score quickly and often, but there should be an extra dose of motivation after giving up 70 points in the Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia.

According to CBSSports.com's Travis Sawchik, linebacker Stephone Anthony has been impressive early in spring practice. Anthony's playing weight is up ten pounds to 230, and Swinney believes this could be an "All Amercian" season for the former five-star recruit.

For more updates from Clemson's spring practice, check out the Tigers' RapidReports.

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