Clemson's No-Name Defense looks to earn respect

by - Senior Writer -
Williams had 50 tackles, five tackles for loss, and two sacks for the Tigers last season. (TigerNet Staff)

CLEMSON – Football fans and sports fans in general love nicknames, and the nicknames for certain defensive groups will go down in football lore as some as the best ever uttered.

There were the Purple People Eaters in Minnesota; the Orange Crush in Denver in the 70s; the Steel Curtain Pittsburgh defenses; the No-Name Defense of the Miami; the New York Sack Exchange of the New York Jets; the Gritz Blitz of the Atlanta Falcons; and the Doomsday Defense of the Dallas Cowboys.

Taking a cue from some of those great nicknames of a bygone time, defensive line coach Dan BrooksDan Brooks
Assistant Coach / Defensive Line
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has borrowed a page from the Miami Dolphins and hung the No-Name Defense moniker on the defense , and has even gone so far as to tell the defense they don’t deserve to have their names on the backs of their jerseys.

Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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has said repeatedly that he thinks the front seven of this year’s defense will be one of the strengths of this year’s team, but some of the defensive line starters didn’t fare very well against offensive line reserves in Wednesday’s PAW drill.

Swinney jumped into the middle of the drill, called the defenders “soft” and screamed that it was “way too easy” for freshmen runners Wayne Gallman and Tyshon Dye to break through the lines.

Swinney’s message was received loud and clear by the No-Name Defense, who later came back to dominate the goal line and short-yardage drills.

According to defensive tackle DeShawn Williams, the early PAW drill was the wake-up call the defense needed.

"I’m very disappointed in myself and as a unit, because we're way better than that," Williams said. "Coach Swinney, he wants us to be one of the top defensive lines in the country. It set us back. Now we're like, 'Aright. We've got to come back down from all this hype and get back to work.’ But nobody knows our names. Eddie George, he came up and he didn’t know our names. Coach Brooks called us the No-Name Defense because nobody knows our names.”

Brooks then told the group that everybody knows who plays on the defensive line at South Carolina, and with good reason.

“Coach Brooks has been throwing it around,” Williams said. “We have told him we wanted our names on our jersey because that’s how people are going to know us, but he was like, ‘Nobody knows our name. It is all about those guys at South Carolina.’ Fans know their names, but no one knows our names so we are going to go out there and make our presence known. We are going to work hard and do what we have to do. We have a great coach and we just want to make our name known.”

Williams said the defense can take pride in what was accomplished against LSU in the bowl game, but they also know that they have to prove themselves every time out.

“As defensive tackles, it proved the type of guys we have up front. It showed we aren’t afraid of the SEC name, even though a lot of people had been throwing that around,” he said. “They were saying we were going against the SEC and couldn’t stop the run, but we showed them in the second half of the game that we could stop the run. But we have to keep working with Coach Brooks and Coach [Marion] Hobby and keep going against the offensive line. They will give us a good look.”

Williams credited the PAW drill with improving the physicality of the defense.

“It starts with that drill. In the bowl practice against LSU, we did that every practice,” he said. “It showed in the game. We know the game is going to be a hard, grinding game. It is going to be down and dirty. You have to just bow up and play.”

If they bow up and play well enough, maybe everybody will know their names. Until then, Williams and his crew vow to keep working and making sure that drills like Wednesday’s don’t happen too often.

"In a game, you can't just go out there and be like, 'Oh, I'm going to turn it on in the second quarter.' Because it'll be too late," Williams said. "They'll have a lot of points. So you've got to turn it on when you get on the field."

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