Something to prove

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Former defensive coordinator Kevin SteeleKevin Steele
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
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talked each and every week last season about the “chunk” plays his defense was giving up during games, something that senior defensive back Xavier BrewerXavier Brewer
RS Sr. Defensive Back
#9 5-11, 190
Jacksonville, FL

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hopes new defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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doesn’t have to discuss in 2012.

Steele’s definition of a “chunk” play was any pass that covered more than 20 yards or a rush that covered more than 15 yards. Unfortunately for both the Clemson defense and the Tiger faithful, chunks were plentiful over the last couple of seasons.

The defense finished 10th in the ACC in scoring defense (29.3 ppg), 10th in rushing defense (176.96 ypg), and ninth in total defense (394.4 yards per game). However, perhaps the most damning stat was the fact that the defense allowed a whopping 182 plays of 10 yards or more, 59 of 20 yards or more, 34 of 30 yards or more (easily the worst in the conference), 19 plays of 40 or more yards (again, the worst), nine plays of 50 or more yards and two of over 60 yards.

Included in those stats were 67 plays of 10 yards or more on the ground (10th in the ACC) and 115 passing plays of 10 yards or more (10th in the ACC). The defense allowed an astounding 14 pass plays of 40 yards or more.

Following Monday’s practice, Brewer said that he knows the secondary was to blame for many of those plays, and that fans shouldn’t blame Steele or the scheme – it was the responsibility of the players who were out on the field.

“That was just us,” Brewer said. “You can blame that on scheme or coaches or whatever, but players play the game. That was on us.”

Brewer said the defense has been concentrating on limiting big plays and touchdowns during camp, and even has a board set up that keeps track of the number of big plays.

“What we have been working on so far in camp is the deep stuff,” he said. “We have a board that keeps track of deep balls [allowed] and touchdowns. We are trying to minimize that. That is definitely something we have been working on.”

Brewer started out last season switching in between corner and nickel, but was moved to safety the week before the Georgia Tech game in order to get better tackling on the back end of the defense. It was a move that stuck through the rest of the season.

He said Monday that he has been working more at free safety the past few practices, and expects to see time there this season.

“I think being able to play back there in the spring helped me a lot,” he said. “Switching in the middle of the season was kind of tough. Having a spring and a summer to help me has made it an easier transition.”

Brewer then said he feels like the entire defense has something to prove and not repeat the mistakes of 2011.

“I think we are getting better every day,” he said. “That is our goal – to get better every day and not make the same mistake twice like we did last year. I just feel like everybody is out to prove something. We won a championship, but that is the minimum now. We want more. It is fun to come out here every day and see everybody so hungry.”

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