Young DL not dominant, but getting there

High-flying Seminoles biggest test yet for Tigers' crew of freshmen, sophomores

Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett tackles Furman running back Hank McCloud in the first quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett tackles Furman running back Hank McCloud in the first quarter.

Is Clemson's defensive line good enough to stand up to Florida State's high-flying offense?

In the short-term, the work-in-progress Tigers will get a good measuring stick of where they stand Saturday night in Tallahassee.

In the long term, Dabo Swinney is confident the Tigers have all the makings of a dominant defensive front.

"I remember when Da'Quan (Bowers) was a sophomore; he wasn't very good, but he took it to another level," said Swinney. "I remember when Andre Branch was a sophomore, and he wasn't very good, and he was a second-round draft pick.

"We have no juniors - we're all sophomores and freshmen. But do we have the talent, yes. Are we dominant yet? No. Can we be? Yes.

"That's why we coach. That's why we play the game. Ask me that question again two years from now when all them boys are full-grown men. But we've got what we've got right now, just got to coach 'em up right now."

Swinney said the Tigers' defensive line effort has been excellent.

"They're trying and they're learning," he said. "Most of those guys playing on our defensive line are playing for the first time significant snaps. Cory Crawford is the only guy that played significantly last year. That's it. The rest of those guys, this is a big opportunity for them, and they're just going to get better and better.

"I feel we have very good talent, well above average talent. But we're not dominant by any stretch of the imagination right now. But I think with time they will be, and have a chance to be very, very special."

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