Time to step up: Defense


by - Senior Writer -
    |

Expectations for the 2013 season are high, higher than at any point in recent memory. However, if the Clemson Tigers are to reach those expectations, several players have to reach their potential and have the kind of season that was envisioned when they were recruited.

In other words, it’s time to step up. The players know it. The coaches know it. The media knows it. The fans know it.

Some of these players haven’t been in the forefront in the past because players have been in their way – Rod McDowell has played behind NFL players like Jamie HarperJamie Harper
Running Back
#8 6-0, 235
Jacksonville, FL

View Full Profile
, C.J. SpillerC.J. Spiller
Pro Running Back
#28 5-11, 195
Lake Butler, FL

View Full Profile
and Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

View Full Profile
. Others simply haven’t taken put it all together on the collegiate level and had the kind of season they want.

Now is that time, and today we take a look at the defense.

*MLB Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
Jr. Linebacker
#12 6-3, 235
Polkton, NC

View Full Profile
-
Anthony battled against Corico Hawkins (now Wright) in his first year at Clemson, won the starting job last season in fall camp and then was replaced by Spencer ShueySpencer Shuey
RS Sr. Linebacker
#33 6-3, 230
Charlotte, NC

View Full Profile
at mid-season. Anthony suffered a broken bone in his hand early in the season that set him back, but still finished with 77 tackles, good for fourth on the team.

The coaches moved Shuey to the outside in the spring, and defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
View Full Profile
raved about Anthony’s progress. He added muscle and weight in the off-season, and he certainly looks the part of a big-time middle linebacker.

If the Tigers are to make significant strides defensively, Anthony has to make those same kind of strides and be the leader of the defense.

*The entire secondary - I tried to think of one or two players in the secondary that need to step up, but the truth of the matter is the entire secondary needs to up its game. There were injuries galore last year – Bashaud BreelandBashaud Breeland
RS Jr. Cornerback
#17 6-0, 195
Allendale, SC

View Full Profile
, Darius RobinsonDarius Robinson
Cornerback
#21 5-10, 175
College Park, GA

View Full Profile
, Garry PetersGarry Peters
RS Jr. Defensive Back
#26 6-0, 195
Conyers, GA

View Full Profile
and Martin JenkinsMartin Jenkins
Cornerback
#14 5-10, 180
Roswell, GA

View Full Profile
all missed significant time in 2012, and Jenkins missed the entire season.

The Tigers have a shot at being special this season, but new secondary coach Mike ReedMike Reed
Defensive Backs Coach
View Full Profile
needs to find two corners that can both tackle and cover, and new safeties Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
So. Defensive Back
#11 6-1, 190
Tallahassee, FL

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

View Full Profile
have to eliminate the blown coverages and big plays that have been back-breakers in big games.

*DE Corey CrawfordCorey Crawford
Jr. Defensive End
#93 6-5, 270
Columbus, GA

View Full Profile
-
Crawford reminds me a lot of former Tiger Andre BranchAndre Branch
Defensive End
#40 6-5, 260
Richmond, VA

View Full Profile
– the talent and the athletic ability were always there for Branch, but it took until his senior season to finally break out. Crawford spent one season behind Branch after spending a year at Hargrave Military Academy, but was the starter a year ago and registered just one sack. Oddly enough, that is his only sack in 440 career snaps. He does have eight tackles for loss, six last season.

Against South Carolina in the regular season finale, we saw what happens when you can’t get consistent pressure on the quarterback and the secondary struggles with coverage – the opponent converts on third down and keeps drives alive.

There will be a new starter on the other side of the line – maybe Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
RS Jr. Defensive End
#3 6-3, 225
Adairsville, GA

View Full Profile
– but Crawford needs to turn into the playmaker Clemson coaches envisioned.

*P/KOS Bradley PinionBradley Pinion
So. Punter
#92 6-6, 230
Concord, NC

View Full Profile
-
Pinion saw part-time duty as the kickoff specialist and punter last season, backing up Spencer BentonSpencer Benton
Punter / Kicker
#13 6-1, 195
Myrtle Beach, SC

View Full Profile
at both spots. He punted nine times for a 39.4 yard average, but showed the big leg on a 51-yarder against Furman. The hope is that Clemson won’t have to punt much, but he has big shoes to fill after Clemson fans have seen Dawson ZimmermanDawson Zimmerman
Punter / Kicker
#96 6-2, 205
Lawrenceville, GA

View Full Profile
and Benton.

Now, it isn’t that Pinion hasn’t lived up to expectations or has failed – he was simply behind a pretty good player last season. Now the job is his, and he needs to be the player coaches thought he was coming out of high school. I think he can.

However, Pinion’s true value may lie in kicking off. When the Tigers failed to kick it off through the end zone last season, bad things happened. Think back to Florida St. If Pinion can find the consistency to make opponents start at the 25-yard line every time, he earns his scholarship and more.

Rate this Story:
28 votes

Send Feedback to David Hood: Email | Comment
    |
Loading...
Post your comments!
Subject (Replies: 28) Author
Front Page Story: Time to step up: Defense
TigerNet News
Breeland could be the weakest link....
1981TigerTennis
Breeland was our best cover corner last year
Drobins
Why are we talking about Peters again?***
tigerforlife28
Martin Jenkins could end up taking the other corner spot.
Chuckston T-Man
Jenkins is probably too short for the outside CB spot
Drobins
Shuey to the outside doesn't make sense to me. Hope that
surroundedtiger
Agreed
sbrooks®
Re: Agreed
hamlettiger
Shuey will defend the run fine. His instincts are the best
striperfan
In Venables system the Mike and Will are both pretty much
truetiger1998
Darius
domduck®
hmmmm, I saw something different but regardless this is
truetiger1998
Re: Breeland could be the weakest link....
Tiger6060
Re: Breeland could be the weakest link....
speedracer®
Any thoughts on Kelan Jones? Think he will get PT***
colemanfan
Re: Any thoughts on Kelan Jones? Think he will get PT***
hamlettiger
Jones is working on the MIKE and WILL. 34 plays SAM LB
Drobins
Re: Any thoughts on Kelan Jones? Think he will get PT***
Dugatiger®
Re: Re: Agreed
tigersnake1954®
Wow, it's amazing you see nothing about steward. I thought
colemanfan
Re: Jones is working on the MIKE and WILL. 34 plays SAM LB
tigersnake1954®
Sorry, have to disagree about Pinion.
Prime T. Tiger
Re: Sorry, have to disagree about Pinion.
Country Gentleman®
Benton played to his potential last year ... and
SocMan2®
Re: Re: Sorry, have to disagree about Pinion.
hamlettiger
Re: Martin Jenkins could end up taking the other corner spot.
hamlettiger
Re: Front Page Story: Time to step up: Defense
Louie Le Lip®
Good points!***
Aikitiger

Notre Dame has better title odds than Clemson

Swinney announces starting QB, lists who will likely play and who will redshirt

Monday's Clemson practice report

WATCH: McCloud discusses playing cornerback

WATCH: Carter sees depth as key to Clemson DBs surprising

Fuller: "I feel like I had a pretty good camp"

Renfrow on Bryant: 'We know that he's the guy'

WATCH: Swinney after Monday's practice

Swinney announces starter at quarterback
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Features
Updates
Daily Digest