Coaches finding, looking for leaders
CLEMSON — With his first spring practice as Clemson’s defensive coordinator complete, Brent Venables is happy with the direction of his defense.
Venables showed little flair or flash in Saturday’s Orange and White game – by design – but said afterward that he likes where his defense is after 15 practices.
“I’m pleased with our guys’ effort,” he said. “I thought really to a man, I was pleased with the investment our guys made, the willingness to work. I think overall as a group we’ve made progress in all areas.
“We’ve got a lot of work in all areas, a lot of improvement to do across the board in every position, in every phase, but I can guarantee we’ll get there in time because our guys want to work. They want to be good, and we’ve got good leadership.”
A young group of defensive tackles was particularly impressive Saturday, with sophomore Grady Jarrett making six tackles and two sacks and D.W. Daniel product DeShawn Williams adding six tackles and a sack. Sophomore Josh Watson had five tackles and a sack.
The next step for the whole defense, Venables said, is a concerted summer mindset.
“If those guys put forth the effort they did in the summer than they did in the course of the spring, we’ll have an opportunity to be the football team and defense we want to be,” he said. “If they don’t, we won’t.”
Stoudt completed 14 of 23 passes for 99 yards, a touchdown and an interception; Roberts completed 14 of 24 for 149 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
“Cole is ahead by a whisker,” Morris said, “but neither of those guys have many whiskers.”
Pinion pushing Benton: Freshman punter Bradley Pinion was impressive, booting eight punts for an average of 44.3 yards. Senior Spencer Benton had six boots for 38.2 yards. Swinney said that the battle to replace Dawson Zimmerman could last until August, although “we’re going to need both of those guys.”
Two linemen miss game: Clemson announced before the game that two linemen would not be in attendance. Sophomore defensive tackle Tavaris Barnes missed the game while attending a funeral, while sophomore offensive guard Reid Webster missed the game after being suspended for an unknown violation of team rules. Barnes is expected to challenge for a starting role this fall, while Webster has worked in a backup role this spring.
Bellamy yin and yang: Sophomore tailback Mike Bellamy, by all accounts, had a solid spring after being sent home from the ACC title game and suspended for the Orange Bowl. But one play summed up his potential and pratfalls. Bellamy broke a 23-yard run up the middle, but fumbled, with linebacker Justin Parker recovering it. He finished with eight carries for 55 yards and one impressive reception for nine yards that saw him shake-and-bake cornerback Martin Jenkins near the left sideline.
Shuey, McNeal injured: Junior linebacker Spencer Shuey, playing middle linebacker following finger surgery that sidelined starter Stephone Anthony, left the game in the second quarter after injuring his right arm. Swinney said he suffered a hyperextended elbow.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Tony McNeal suffered a knee injury on the final play, a 10-yard loss that resulted from a failed scramble. Swinney said he didn’t know the extent of the injury, but said it was not the leg that he suffered a torn ACL in as a high school junior.