Babalola Gets First Look At Bandit Position

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Special to TigerNet from the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger

CLEMSON -- Olu Babalola will be playing the bandit end position in Vic Koenning's new defense. Now he needs to find out what that means.

"Don't ask me what that is," the newest Tiger joked.

Babalola, who joined the football team Monday, learned a lot of new things Wednesday, including what it feels like to be hit.

"I liked it," he told the media after practice. "I actually liked it so much it was weird. I got hit pretty hard right under the chest.

"It hurt a little bit, but I bounced up because I knew people were looking at me. If I get hit hard people are going to be looking at me to see how I react." But Babalola said he hasn't had the opportunity to return the hit.

"Not yet, I want to get comfortable and acclimated to things first," he said.

What Babalola did for much of the day was learn that the bandit end position means more than just sacking the quarterback. He said he felt kind of out of place at times when he had to drop back in coverage and cover his area of the field.

"I'm not to sure about that stuff," said the former basketball player. "I want to go chase the quarterback, but that's not what your supposed to do.

"I'm learning that now. Sometimes, I guess you have to read where the ball is at before you go and attack it so that's where my frustration is kicking in. I thought I was just going to have to rush, but that's not what you're supposed to do all the time. Once I get that down I should feel more comfortable." Bowden is beginning to feel a little more comfortable with Babalola. He said he was impressed with what he showed in his first day of full contact.

"He got in the scrimmage and bounced around and did pretty good," said Bowden. "Again, he is very fundamentally raw, but again you want to see if he has a little explosion or aggressiveness and if he is not scared.

"He wasn't scared today, and I thought that was a good sign."

Bowden saw a lot of good signs during Wednesday's scrimmage. The offense was a little more productive and the defense was still making a lot of plays.

Charlie Whitehurst threw a long pass to Curtis Baham, while Will Proctor found La'Donte Harris for a big gain. Running backs Reggie Merriweather and Kyle Browning both looked productive on both goal line and open field situations.

"We had some big plays offensively and that was the biggest difference," Bowden said.

Bowden and wide receiver's coach Dabo Swinney both praised Harris' effort Wednesday.

"He was the most consistent today," said Bowden. "He'll take Chansi (Stuckey)'s, Baham's or Kelvin (Grant)'s spot, but Kelvin Grant looked pretty good today."

So did Jamaal Fudge, Chris Clemons and Brandon Nolen. All three had interceptions, two thrown by Proctor and one by Whitehurst.

"We did have some interceptions. Fudge had an interception, Clemmons had an interception and Brandon Nolen had one... From an execution standpoint only the fifth day, the first scrimmage and then with the installation (of the new scheme) you're not expecting some polish from an execution standpoint."

But Bowden was expecting some polish from the special teams. He reported both Jad Dean and Cole Chason have looked sluggish in practice thus far.
"Kicking and punting were inconsistent," he said. "Cole and Jad need to step it up."

Clemson will practice again today, but Bowden hasn't decided if it will be in full pads or not. Saturday's scrimmage at Death Valley will not be open to the public. No time has been set for the scrimmage as of Wednesday.

Will Vandervort is the Sports Editor for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger.

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