'Healthy' competition guiding Tigers' d-line

Spring Football Practice - Grady Jarrett (50)

Photo by Mark Crammer

Spring Football Practice - Grady Jarrett (50)

CLEMSON – The entire two-deep on the Clemson d-line will be back…for South Carolina State.

In case you missed the news early this spring, the Tigers will be missing starting senior defensive end Corey Crawford in the Georgia opener in Athens.

But, for now – the competition is heated to fill the spots for the games past Aug. 30.

One of the more pressing questions?

“Who’s going to be that fifth guy at end and tackle? Hopefully the third and fourth guy hopefully they want to be the first guy,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said after practice Friday. “Somebody’s going to have to play the opposite of Vic that opening game. I don’t know.

“There’s competition and some jockeying going on at both d-tackle and d-end.”

For the opener and maybe beyond, senior Jacksonville, Fla. Native Tavaris Barnes has emerged as one to watch opposite All-ACCer Vic Beasley.

“He’s been really good,” Venables said. “I’ve been really pleased. He’s just a guy at the four who’s occasionally shown some explosiveness and some really good strength. He’s had an effective spring ball up to this point. He’s been disruptive and made plays consistently. Much better pad level, shown disruptiveness.”

Barnes’ playing time has increased each season, playing 292 snaps with 14 tackles (two for loss) and a sack last year. This spring, Barnes said he’s ready to take that next step in a long line of playmakers at end for Clemson.

Venables has seen that commitment.

“His technique has been a lot more consistent,” he said. “His effort has been a lot more consistent. It’s been real pleasing to see his attitude – he’s got better body language, all of that. Along with having some success. To me it’s the changed attitude and purpose.”

When asked how many “ready” ends he needed come gameday, Venables joked he’s fine with two, but three would do just fine.

“If you have three that’s plenty,” Venables said. “You don’t need more than that. We’ll have more than three. We’ll be fine.”

Where the third-year defensive coordinator knows he’ll be fine as well is in the center of the line, senior tackle Grady Jarrett – an example he knows he can count on. He’s a reason why Venables has few worries about the d-line in 2014.

“His commitment to work and doing things right every day, he’s the model of consistency,” said Venables. “He’s got a toughness and an edge. He’s always got the motor and attitude. A year ago, we really liked to play. That group had good effort, chemistry.

“Sometimes when your best players play with the best effort it’s easy for other guys to follow suit. Hopefully he’ll continue to bring that to the table.”

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