The Weakest Link

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The Weakest Link

The past two seasons Clemson's secondary has been the biggest weakness on this team. In 2011, the Tigers allow 218 yards per game through the air. That was an increase of 26 yards per game from the year before and 55 yards per game from 2009.

Last season that number increased by 22 more yards a game as the Tigers gave up 240 yards a game through the year. That put the Tigers 71st in the country against the pass.

Florida State threw for 380 yards, Boston College passed for 369 yards and South Carolina had 310 yards through the air. But no one exploited the Tigers like NC State last season when the Wolfpack through for 493 yards.

Clemson gave up big plays in the passing game. Auburn hit on a 54 yard touchdown pass in the opener. Furman hit on 37 yard touchdown pass. Florida State hit on a 29 yard touchdown pass. Boston College hit a 42 yard touchdown pass and a 31 yard touchdown pass. Duke hit on a 77 yard touchdown pass. South Carolina threw three touchdown passes including a 34-yarder. But NC State was the biggest threat. State threw five touchdown passes including one of 77 yards, one for 49 yards and one for 29 yards.

So Clemson loses three starters and secondary. Rashard HallRashard Hall
#31 6-2, 210
St. Augustine, FL

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, Jonathan MeeksJonathan Meeks
#5 6-1, 210
Rock Hill, SC

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, and Xavier BrewerXavier Brewer
Gr. Defensive Back
#9 5-11, 190
Jacksonville, FL

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are gone, but maybe that's not bad news.

There are a lot of question marks in secondary but new defensive backs coach Mike ReedMike Reed
Defensive Backs Coach
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does have some answers. Unfortunately those answers are not complete answers. For example Bashaud BreelandBashaud Breeland
RS Jr. Cornerback
#17 6-0, 195
Allendale, SC

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is a physical cornerback who has had some success. However, Breeland often times get down on himself and has been inconsistent. He is also coming off an injury.

Darius RobinsonDarius Robinson
#8 5-10, 175
College Park, GA

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is a decent cover guy who has played in a ton of big games but he lacks size and is coming off of a devastating injury.

Martin JenkinsMartin Jenkins
RS Jr. Cornerback
#14 5-10, 180
Roswell, GA

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is a physical nickel back, but he too is coming of injury and also lacks size.

Robert SmithRobert Smith
Jr. Safety
#27 5-10, 210
St. George, SC

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and Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
So. Defensive Back
#11 6-0, 190
Tallahassee, FL

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are penciled in at the two safety spots but neither has started a game.

At times Gary Peters has lacked discipline and dedication. At other times he has shown flashes of being a dependable corner.

All of these question marks are the reason the staff went out and recruited eight defensive backs. Reed has a lot more talent to work with this season, however that talent is inexperienced.

Mackenzie Alexander is considered the top defensive back prospects in the country. He has been one of the most impressive freshman in the offseason workouts, but is still a freshman.

Adrian BakerAdrian Baker
Fr. Cornerback
#21 6-1, 170
Hollywood, FL

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is a speedster who was committed to Florida State before signing with Clemson, but does he have enough size and strength to play early?

Jayron KearseJayron Kearse
Fr. Safety
#20 6-4, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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is a physical beast. How will he adjusts to the college game?

Jadar JohnsonJadar Johnson
Fr. Defensive Back
#18 6-1, 180
Orangeburg, SC

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had a good spring and is a smart player, but is he ready to push Smith at strong safety?

Ronald Geohagan and Cordrea TankersleyCordrea Tankersley
Fr. Defensive Back
#25 6-1, 190
Beech Island, SC

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are two guys that are untested but have a chance to backup Blanks at free safety.

Korrin WigginsKorrin Wiggins
Fr. Defensive Back
#12 6-1, 185
Durham, NC

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is a smart player who played at a high level in North Carolina last season but that was still high school football.

Marcus EdmondMarcus Edmond
Fr. Defensive Back
#29 6-1, 180
Hopkins, SC

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is a guy Reed likes a lot because he has to cover skills. But can he make the adjustment to the bigger, faster receivers at this level?

These are the questions that will get answered starting tomorrow night. These are also the questions that is kept Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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and Mike Reed up at night.

I personally believe the Tigers will be improved in the secondary. I see more talent. I see bigger bodies. I see more speed and athleticism.

Quite frankly the last two seasons have been atrocious in the secondary. Often times they blew assignments. When assignments were not the issue, speed and athleticism were. Even when they were in place, often times they could not find the football and had bad ball skills.

My guess is the new defensive backs have more speed and more athleticism. Now it's up to Reed to maximize the potential and cut down on the time it takes to learn the scheme. This much inexperience is scary. But not as scary as what we have seen the last two seasons in the Clemson secondary.

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Thomasville, GA

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, Alvin Sammons, Georgine McAlhaney, Glen Davis, Mike Price, Clay Childers, Aaron Knight, Danielle Johnston and family, Nicholas Abrams, Lana Kuykendall, Gary, Gary G., William Huggins, Jim Bennett, Chantz Fowler, Ethel McElveen, Michele Gurganus, William Gentry, Lewis Usher and Tanya Sanders, Shon Cooper, Nick Collins, Travis Patterson, Amanda Peake, Danny Hammond, Chip Turner, Nick Collins, Allen Steen, The Sturkey Family, the Lance family, Marcus Lattimore, Nick Chrisley's family, Allison Williams, Lt. Kyle Walker, Summer and Joel Johnson, Nicole O'Donnell, James O. Johnson, Joy Pruett and family, Patrick Heher, Bill Schmidt, Jack Bailey, Gardner Family, Charles Turner, Kathy Bartholomew, Ray Sanders, David and Robin Blocker, J.R. Ray, Kenneth Kowe, Lauren Sielicki, Doug Bailey and family, Johnnie Walker, Jenna Phipps, Mark Lawrence, Harlan Sullins, Peter Laboy, Kat and Carlisle Jones, Elizabeth Galloway and family, Anita McDonald, Willard Harryman, Liz Surratt, Molly Senn, Jackie Shearer, Richard Sellers, Tim Drisdelle, Edward Easterling, Dawson Bourne, Susan and Mike Brown, Julie Goodman Marshall, Willard and Dorothy Harryman, Justin Jernigan, our great country and the men and women in uniform that protect and serve it every day plus their families.

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