How Big of a Drop Off?
|Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 9:57 AM- -|
How Big of a Drop Off?
The NFL Combine was fun to watch the last four days. Its always nice watching Clemson players get recognition the way
Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
RS Sr. Defensive End
#3 6-2, 236
View Full Profile , Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
#42 6-2, 244
View Full Profile , Grady JarrettGrady Jarrett
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-1, 290
View Full Profile , Tavaris BarnesTavaris Barnes
RS Sr. Defensive End
#9 6-4, 273
View Full Profile and others got this weekend.
The only downside from the news of the weekend was that some fans point out the expected drop off on defense at Clemson in 2015 due to the superstars leaving the program. While I do expect drop off, I don't feel it will be as significant as some of the doomsday fans believe.
I had a couple of conversations this weekend with a few Gamecock friends who tried to warn me about the impending disaster that is coming this fall. They speak from experience. South Carolina saw their defense go from one of the best in the country to one of the worst in one season.
However, I see one major difference between South Carolina's defense of 2014 and Clemson's defense in 2015. Talent.
When South Carolina lost Jadeveon Clowney, Chaz Sutton and Kelcy Quarles from their defensive line last year, they replaced them with a pretty good player in JT Suratt and that was it. Surratt was solid. The rest of the defensive line was a mess. Darius English was supposed to be the next Clowney, because he was tall and kinda looked like Clowney's frame. One thing they forgot was that English wasn't very good. Neither were David Johnson, Gerald Dixon, Gerald Dixon, Jr., Abu Lamin, Deon Green, Kelsey Griffin, Mason Harris, Cedrick Cooper or Phillip Dukes.
When Clemson replaces Beasley, Barnes,
Corey CrawfordCorey Crawford
Sr. Defensive End
#93 6-5, 276
View Full Profile , Jarrett, DeShawn WilliamsDeShawn Williams
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#99 6-1, 292
View Full Profile and Josh WatsonJosh Watson
RS Sr. Defensive Tackle
#91 6-4, 292
View Full Profile this year, it will with D.J. ReaderD.J. Reader
Jr. Defensive Tackle
#48 6-2, 322
View Full Profile , Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 294
View Full Profile , Scott PaganoScott Pagano
RS Fr. Defensive Tackle
#56 6-4, 292
View Full Profile , Christian Wilkins, Shaq LawsonShaq Lawson
So. Defensive End
#90 6-3, 269
View Full Profile , Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
RS So. Defensive End
#98 6-5, 275
View Full Profile , Richard YearginRichard Yeargin
Fr. Defensive End
#49 6-4, 225
Lauderdale Lakes, FL
View Full Profile and Albert Huggins.
South Carolina went from four- and five-star kind of players up front to two- and three-star players. Clemson is replacing its four- and five-stars with four- and five-stars.
Don't get me wrong, experience and depth will be an issue but talent won't be.
One of the main issues at South Carolina was creating a pass rush. Its hard to rush the passer without playmakers who have athleticism. Clemson brings back Lawson, Watkins and Reader. These are proven pass rushers who have made plays. They may not be Beasely or Jarrett, but they are also not Dixon and Johnson.
At linebacker Clemson loses two great ones in Anthony and
Tony StewardTony Steward
#7 6-1, 236
View Full Profile , but Ben BoulwareBen Boulware
So. Outside Linebacker
#10 5-11, 235
View Full Profile has made big plays in games. So has BJ Goodson.
In the secondary last season the Gamecocks lost Jimmy Legree, Victor Hampton and Ahmad Christian. They replaced them with a bunch of unproven freshmen who had never done anything on the field. Also the returning guys in the secondary were not considered a strength.
This year Clemson has to replace
Robert SmithRobert Smith
#27 5-11, 211
St. George, SC
View Full Profile and Garry PetersGarry Peters
RS Sr. Cornerback
#26 6-0, 194
View Full Profile in the secondary. But, Mackensie AlexanderMackensie Alexander
RS Fr. Cornerback
#2 5-11, 190
View Full Profile and Jayron KearseJayron Kearse
#20 6-4, 215
Fort Myers, FL
View Full Profile are stars who return. Jadar JohnsonJadar Johnson
So. Defensive Back
#18 6-1, 207
View Full Profile , Cordrea Tankersly and Adrian BakerAdrian Baker
RS Fr. Cornerback
#21 5-11, 184
View Full Profile have played and have potential. Plus, Mark Fields is an incoming star who could play right away.
In summary, I don't believe Clemson will again have the nation's top defense, and I do expect some drop off on that side of the ball. However, I don't think we will see a huge drop-off, because there still is talent left in a lot of areas.
Finally, Clemson's offense will be explosive, and the defense won't have to win games. I also trust
Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Def. Coordinator / Linebackers
View Full Profile to rebuild a lot more effectively than Lorenzo Ward did at South Carolina.
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