Williams says defensive line playing with a chip on their shoulders

by - Staff Writer -

CLEMSON- With the defensive line playing with a chip on their shoulders, rising sophomore defensive tackle DeShawn WilliamsDeShawn Williams
Fr. Defensive Tackle
#99 6-1, 290
Central, SC

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expects a lot more turnovers for his defense in 2012.

The Clemson defense forced 23 turnovers during the 2011 season - good for 49th in the country – and Williams said that forced turnovers have been highlighted through the first four days of spring practice, which he hopes will translate over to the field during the 2012 season.

“Our defense this spring has turned over a lot of balls- interceptions, fumbles, and forced fumbles- more than we did last year,” Williams said Monday after practice. “That’s going to help us during the season. You’re going to see a lot more turnovers than you did last year.”

The defensive tackles are playing with a renewed sense of urgency because they don’t want to be the weak link on the young defensive line.

“We've been hearing negative stuff about us and that we are going to be the softest and the weakest of the defense so we put that chip on our shoulder and we have to work every day,” he said. “That’s all we’ve been hearing.”

Williams has big shoes to fill in replacing Brandon ThompsonBrandon Thompson
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#98 6-2, 310
Thomasville, GA

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, who was known for filling the gaps and stopping the run, and he has been working hard to become a dominant force on the inside of the defensive line.

“The best thing that I probably do is pass rush,” he said. “Brandon Thompson was a run-stopper up the middle. I just have to work on being a dominant d-tackle and nose guard and stop the run and just play physical every play.”

He knows he still has a lot of work to do on his technique, but with the defensive scheme that new defensive coordinator Brent Venables brings, Williams says he is able to get on the field and just play.

“Technique wise, I’ve got a little bit more work to do,” he said. “He [defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks] hammers us about that every day- technique, technique. We had to switch up our technique. Last year, we had to get up the field and lose our gaps. This year, it’s a balanced field and just play. Technique wise, I just have to keep working on it every day because it’s a new defense.”

But, his hard work and athleticism haven’t gone unnoticed by Venables.

“He’s active,” Venables said. “He’s been tough. He likes to compete. He’s a good player. He’s got quickness. He’s got good strength.”

His competitiveness and toughness will have to continue through the spring and into the fall and summer in order to claim a starting spot since all spots are up for grabs.

“Pretty much everyone is getting first team reps,” Williams said. “A spot hasn’t been sold yet. We’re all still out there fighting for a spot.”

The early returns for Williams and his teammates on the line give Venables more than just hope.

“Guys are making progress,” Venables said. “We’ll have guys that can more than hold their own. I like the athleticism. I like the strength. I like the ability to play with leverage. There’s a pretty good football intelligence out there. I think there is certainly more than hope.”

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