Clemson's improved front seven will lead the way on defense

by - Senior Writer -
Grady Jarrett will anchor the middle of Clemson's defense

Clemson’s rush defense has been a hot topic for Clemson fans over the past several seasons, and with good reason. Teams, especially teams with a running quarterback, ran almost at will on the Tiger defense, a far cry from the glory days when Tiger defenders swarmed ball carriers and shut down running games with a passion and ferocity unmatched by the opposition.

Late last season, opponent’s running games all but disappeared, and defensive tackles coach Dan BrooksDan Brooks
Assistant Coach / Defensive Line
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credits an improved front seven with creating a different mindset every time they took the field.

Over the last six games, including the bowl win over LSU, the Tigers allowed an average of just 102 rushing yards per game. Over a full season, numbers like that put you in the Top 10 nationally in rush defense.

Defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks said recently that it all came down to confidence.

“There were some things that were there already, like toughness,” Brooks said. “They just needed to have some confidence and have some success against some good offensive lines. Now they don’t believe that they can do it, they know they can do it. I can’t point out the game that it all changed, but you look at Georgia Tech and they played us different this past year than they had been. They couldn’t run it inside on us. We knew they could do it, but they had to go out and do it. Hopefully, we have crossed that bridge.”

Clemson held LSU to just 99 yards rushing in the bowl win, and defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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said that game was the culmination of a fairly strong second half of the season despite the numbers put up by N.C. State.

“We got better as the season went along as guys got more comfortable and got game experience,” Venables said. “Some of the same schemes were more successful over the second half of the season because of better precision. There are certainly games, plays and drives that you’d like to have back, the test of any team, organization, or side of the ball you are what you are and what you repeatedly do. We showed substantial improvement and numbers were indicative of that.”

Venables said the defensive line needs to continue to progress and show leadership if the defense is to take another step forward this season.

“Our front seven, we got great leadership as well from that group,” Venables said. “Grady JarrettGrady Jarrett
Jr. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-1, 290
Conyers, GA

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, Josh WatsonJosh Watson
RS Jr. Defensive Tackle
#91 6-4, 285
Wilmington, DE

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, DeShawn WilliamsDeShawn Williams
Jr. Defensive Tackle
#99 6-1, 285
Central, SC

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- those guys in particular inside and then Corey CrawfordCorey Crawford
Jr. Defensive End
#93 6-5, 270
Columbus, GA

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and hopefully Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
RS Jr. Defensive End
#3 6-3, 225
Adairsville, GA

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and Tavaris BarnesTavaris Barnes
RS Jr. Defensive End
#6 6-4, 275
Jacksonville, FL

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. They can also provide some leadership. They’ve played enough and been around here long enough that we need them to do that if we’re going to make the kind of leap we all want to.”

Brooks said the Tigers can’t focus on 2012, however; they need to look forward.

“The challenge for them is to look forward, and not backward,” defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks said recently. “They have to remember that mentality they had at the end of last season, and use it this season. If you can keep that mentality, you will be a successful team.”

Brooks said he hopes he can rotate 10 players in and out along the defensive line, creating depth across the defensive front.

“For me, if you can have 10 defensive linemen that you can feel comfortable with putting in the game,” Brooks said. “Five inside and five outside, I know that’s like dying and going to heaven, but that’s how you want it to be. I roll my guys. You very rarely see my guys play more than eight snaps in a row. I’m going to get another guy in the game and it may not be but two or three snaps. But at least that guy catches his breath. You need at least two-deep ready to play. Week to week, nobody knows who is going to start, and that motivates them to work at practice. Their job is to please me.”

The Tigers are also creating depth at linebacker.

“I love our linebackers. They’ve got great chemistry,” Venables said. “They all like each other. They all want the ball. They all like to work. You can coach them all hard. We’ve got a group of guys- six or seven of them- that you feel good about. It’s quality depth. We’ve got a group of guys that can run, they can strike, they’ve got good instincts, they are tough and they can lead.”

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Subject (Replies: 30) Author
Front Page Story: Clemson's improved front seven will lead the way on defense
TigerNet News
... and ALL but Shuey and Christian should be back in '14.***
Defense wins championships
Tossing out LSU, the other 5 teams average ranking in
Good stat Spud, we'll see. thanks***
Excellent point, the schedule definitely got easier the 2nd
But Usuc did it passing the ball, and if you watched the
Re: Tossing out LSU, the other 5 teams average ranking in
Orange Lightning
Re: Tossing out LSU, the other 5 teams average ranking in
We have 5 men at DT that are tough and experienced
Re: We have 5 men at DT that are tough and experienced
I just hope Crawford shows some burst this year. He looked
Re: Front Page Story: Clemson's improved front seven will lead the way on defense
I was actually going to post on this topic this morning.
If it's another '08 style meltdown, I may have to forego any
I agree the program is in a better place. I don't expect
looks like you say the glass is 1/2 empty, while i look at
sgt tiger®
Right now I just see a glass with some stuff in it.
Ye of little faith... I would explain but that last Bloody
Re: I was actually going to post on this topic this morning.
For simplicity, coaches can go one of two routes...***
Oops.. anyway, they can do one of two things. They
After rewatching the LSU game
Re: After rewatching the LSU game
Re: After rewatching the LSU game
Funny how TNet can take a great win....
Where was this awesome front seven
A year younger and playing against upperclassmen.***
Believing that these guys have improved is reasonable...

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