Lovett Pleased with Progress of Defense


by - Correspondent -
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Eric Meekins has been a pleasant surprise this Spring.

CLEMSON - Giving up 44 points to Clemson's offense in the annual spring game
wasn't a concern for new defensive coordinator John Lovett.


In fact, he welcomed the action and wasn't as upset as some might think.


"I was happy, for the most part," he said. "We had some big assignment
mistakes on a couple of things that I know we'll be able to get cleaned up
because now we've some film to correct it. That's what this is all about.


"We tried to play snap in and snap out of some base coverages to give the
kids a lot of looks on film, so they can between now and next August get it
straightened out, get it corrected, and be able to visually see themselves
doing things right and doing things wrong."


There will be plenty of film to observe between now and the opening of fall
camp.


With every practice, every scrimmage and the spring game on tape, Lovett and
his defensive coaches will spend hours and hours scouring every frame,
searching for clues as to who may or may not be ready to help the unit
rebound from a difficult 2001 season.


That being said, there have been a handful of players already make a solid
impression on their first-year coach:


- Trying to shed a label of being "soft," safety Eric Meekins was a pleasant
surprise throughout the spring, and closed strong with nine tackles -
including eight first hits - in Saturday's spring game;


- Meekins' backup, Travis Pugh, has played his way into the picture, as well.
He had seven tackles Saturday, including one for a two-yard loss;


- Starting cornerback Brian Mance and backup Toure Francis opened eyes during
the spring. Francis had an interception Saturday;


- Terrence Huey, a former running back in his first spring at corner, has
shown the type of athleticism and instincts that make the coaching staff
believe he can be a contributor. He, too, had an interception Saturday.


And there are more.


"Rodney Thomas is a guy who's stepped up. He was banged up all spring and
never missed a day. David Dunham is another guy. He missed some time because
he was sick, but he fought through some nagging injuries during the spring
and has gotten better. I think he'll be able to contribute."


And though he's ready to grade film, Lovett sounded almost disappointed the
spring was coming to an end.


"It's been a great spring, it really has. The kids' effort has been
tremendous and we picked up a lot of things we're trying to get done.



SPRING PRACTICE COVERAGE
Day 1: Weather or Not, Spring Practice Underway (Photos) Day 2: Two Days In, Let the Hitting Begin Day 3: Hitting, Fights Suit Bowden Fine (Photos) Day 4: Todd McClinton Gives Trainers a Scare Day 5: Clemson Holds Football Scrimmage (Photos) Day 6: Film Grade Promotes Walker to Starting Guard Day 7: Mini Scrimmage Held Before Spring Break Day 8: Tigers Return to Practice After Spring Break Day 9: Bowden Looking for Leaders Day 10: No Report Day 11: Clemson Holds 96-Play Scrimmage (Photos) Day 12: Bowden Unhappy with Lackluster Tigers Day 13: Defense Showing Signs of Swagger Returning Day 14: Simmons Steps Forward As Spring Game Looms Day 15: Jasmin, Simmons Highlight Orange and White Game (Photos)

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