Defensive losses significant, but Tigers returning more experienced core overall

Middle linebackers Spencer Shuey, Stephone Anthony combined for 170 tackles in 2012

Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony tackles Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary in the first quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony tackles Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary in the first quarter.

Brent Venables will return a stronger core of more experienced players next season, though he still faces the springtime task of replacing some key figures on Clemson's defense.

The Tigers lose four of their top six tacklers to graduation, including linebacker Tig Willard, who led the team with 95 stops. Safety Rashard Hall was third with 85 tackles, cornerback/safety Xavier Brewer was fifth with 64, and safety Jonathan Meeks was sixth with 62.

The Tigers' top returning tacklers are middle linebackers Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony, who combined for 170 tackles last season - 93 for Shuey, which ranked second on the team, and 77 by Anthony, which ranked fourth.

Clemson also loses defensive end Malliciah Goodman, who had 28 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

Clemson returns the players who ranked 7th-14th in tackles: defensive tackle Josh Watson (54), defensive back Travis Blanks (51), defensive tackle DeShawn Williams (50), defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (49), defensive end Corey Crawford (47), linebacker Quandon Christian (40), defensive tackle D.J. Reader (40), and cornerback Bashaud Breeland (32).

Clemson's return statistical leaders in various categories include Shuey, with 95 tackles; Jarrett, with 8.5 tackles for loss; defensive end Vic Beasley, with eight sacks, Watson, with 12 quarterback pressures; cornerback Garry Peters, with eight PBUs; and Tony Steward, with 12 special teams tacklers.

Five players return who had one interception each - cornerback Darius Robinson, Peters, Christian, Anthony and Blanks. Anthony, Beasley, Christian, Cortez Davis and Watson each had one forced fumble, while Blanks recovered two fumbles.

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Comments » 2

TigerNE writes:

There's a lot riding on Blanks continuing to improve through another 2 or 3 years. In both the FSU and SCar games he showed some decent ability and key tackles. Being a 2nd Team AA is not shabby, either.

Lynx26 writes:

very true ... Will Quandan Christian pleeeeeeeeeeeease hit the weight room and become more physical/violent!

Move Stephone to OLB along Steward on the opposite side- which will make us elite!

Cortez has to make a strong push to start... like how he filled in along with his size- underrated.

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