Media Day News and Notes - Part One

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Dabo Swinney at the Reserve on Tuesday.  (TigerNet / David Hood)
Dabo Swinney at the Reserve on Tuesday. (TigerNet / David Hood)

SUNSET – Selected notes and quotes from the first session with Clemson assistant coaches at head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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’s media golf outing Tuesday at The Reserve.

DT coach Dan BrooksDan Brooks
Assistant Coach / Defensive Line
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On Josh WatsonJosh Watson
RS Jr. Defensive Tackle
#91 6-4, 285
Wilmington, DE

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“Josh Watson has come so far in the last two years. We were at a point where we just didn’t know, we thought we might have missed on him. Now we are counting on him to help us win a championship. He has done a great job for us.”

On being a teacher

“I am old school but their job is to please me. I am still a teacher. I taught in high school and my job is to teach these young people to play. They have to want to do it, but I have to teach them.”

On beating LSU and against SEC teams

“We can use that. It was so different from the Auburn game up front. When you can stop LSU on 3rd-and-1 and 3rd-and-2 consistently, that gives you confidence. We ended up playing three from the SEC. I have coached twice in the SEC and twice in the ACC. They want to crow that they play the best football in the country and it’s hard to argue with them because they have won those national championships. But we were 2-1 against the SEC a year ago, and when you beat an Auburn in the opener and LSU in the last game, it does bring respect to your program. Kids saw that game because it was the only game in town. Guys contacted us that were not in our regular recruiting footprint because they saw us on national television. If you beat those guys it is good for you. The players get told all the time about the SEC. But you look at the ACC and they have added Notre Dame and Louisville – which just knocked off Florida – and it isn’t getting any easier in the ACC.”

RB coach Tony ElliottTony Elliott
Assistant Coach / Running Backs
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On the situation at running back

“You would say that Hot Rod (McDowell) is that guy. He’s put in that time, he has the most experience. He also proved last year in game situations that he was able to provide that consistent running effort you look for. Hot Rod’s probably the guy, but the other guys are nipping at his heels.”

On having all of the running backs share the load

“I think the days of having just one guy carry the load are over. At that position you take such a pounding, you don’t know when you’re going to be good enough to run at full speed. These guys have to understand that everybody’s got to be ready to roll at any time. You never know when opportunity may come. And I don’t care who’s getting the touches as long as the job’s getting done.”

DE coach Marion HobbyMarion Hobby
Assistant Coach / Defensive Ends
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On junior defensive end Corey CrawfordCorey Crawford
Jr. Defensive End
#93 6-5, 270
Columbus, GA

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’s potential

“Corey has a great upside. He had a great spring and is the most versatile player because he can play both the left and the right side,” Hobby said of Crawford. “He is right in the fire on the left side and then he has also shown that he can play the right side. I hope to get him close to [former Clemson defensive end] Philip Merling. Merling was a big guy like that and took time to develop, but once he did, he took off. He kind of reminded me of reminds me of UNC defensive end Quentin Coples. Corey is the leader of his group.”

On former defensive end Maliciah Goodman’s performance against LSU in the Chick-fil-A bowl

“That was a dream game for a defensive lineman to play like he did on a national stage. Every defensive lineman in the country wants to have that kind of game- three sacks. What people don’t know is that everybody in the country knew who Maliciah was. The tight end blocked him, they chipped him, he got enough attention that he wasn’t just going to run free. Think about it, Corey had a lot of tackles last year because teams stayed away from Maliciah. He had a great season and a great bowl game. Sometimes you go your whole career and only get three sacks, he got three in a game.”

The chances of freshmen Ebenezer OgundekoEbenezer Ogundeko
Fr. Outside Linebacker
#1 6-3, 240
Brooklyn, NY

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and Shaq LawsonShaq Lawson
Fr. Defensive End
#90 6-4, 240
Central, SC

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playing in 2013

“They have great potential. It’s going to be their responsibility to get in the mix,” Hobby said of Ogundeko and Lawson. “We have two-a-days and do a lot of game-type situations and it is going to be up to them to put themselves in a position to play. I tell them that we are going to play the best player regardless of age.”

Ogundeko’s academic performance during his first collegiate semester

“His first year in college he had honors in the academics,” Hobby said of Ogundeko. “I got to call his mom with good news and tell her that I did what I said I was going to do. I got sound like a genius. Him making honors his first semester was awesome.”

Defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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Venables’ expectations for the 2013 season

“Obviously you expect growth, improvement, more consistency,” Venables said. “There’s no question that we’ve developed more quality depth across the board. I feel like we’ve got a better understanding of our personnel and what we can and can’t do; leadership ability; how guys handle certain situations; what we’re good and what we’re not so good at; where we need to get better; things that going into fall that you need to get more clarity- our secondary in particular; whether or not we can consistently generate a pass rush with four guys. That’s going to be imperative. The growth of any secondary- experienced or not- you have to get a consistent pass rush and that was a problem for us during the first half of the season. When we got better, we played better overall as a defense.“

The development and leadership of the secondary

“I’m really excited about our leadership especially with the guys we have returning in our secondary,” Venables said. “We had the injuries last year to our corners to Darius RobinsonDarius Robinson
#21 5-10, 175
College Park, GA

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, Bashaud BreelandBashaud Breeland
RS Jr. Cornerback
#17 6-0, 195
Allendale, SC

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and Martin JenkinsMartin Jenkins
#14 5-10, 180
Roswell, GA

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. Those guys have played a good bit of football here. Those guys along with Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
So. Defensive Back
#11 6-1, 190
Tallahassee, FL

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and Robert SmithRobert Smith
Jr. Safety
#27 5-11, 210
St. George, SC

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bring good leadership. I really like the chemistry we have back there. As we all know, there will be an influx of freshmen with Jadar JohnsonJadar Johnson
Fr. Defensive Back
#18 6-1, 180
Orangeburg, SC

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and that group. We’re going to have to count on them unfortunately, but with the talent we have, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

The leadership on the defensive line

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

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- those guys in particular inside and then Corey Crawford 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.”

The chemistry 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.”

Improvement over the second half of the 2012 season

“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.”

N.C. State and South Carolina weren’t indicative of improvement

“We got into a shootout with N.C. State and when you are giving up 70-yard post routes and 60-yard bombs and letting people get behind you, everything else can be perfect and one guy can screw it all up and that’s what happened in that game,” Venables said. “That game was a lot closer than it needed to be. And, then the South Carolina game we couldn’t make a play when we needed to. It all starts up front. Their four and five blocked our four and five all day. We couldn’t beat anybody and then when we did we were just off. I think those two games were not necessarily reflective of the growth we made over the second.

Nikki Steele also contributed to this article

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