Williams sees a 'special' 2014 for Clemson's defense

Football - DeShawn Williams and Grady Jarrett

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football - DeShawn Williams and Grady Jarrett

CLEMSON - Just the thought of what a veteran Clemson defense can do next season sends a smile across senior defensive tackle DeShawn Williams’ face.

The Tigers return seven starters and a number of reserves who’ve played from a team that finished No. 1 nationally in tackles for loss (123), No. 2 in three-and-outs forced (6.1) and sacks (38) and top-25 in both scoring (22.2) and total defense (356.3).

Most surprising out of the returning bunch was first-team All-American defensive end Vic Beasley, who compiled 13 sacks and 23 tackles for loss and spurned some first-round NFL draft projections.

His return ensured Clemson was returning its entire d-line, on a unit that was already bringing back its interior line for a second-straight year.

“I’ve never been a part of nothing like this. To have your whole (unit) back for your senior year – it’s crazy,” Williams said. “Something special is going to come out of this. We know we can’t get complacent. We can’t buy into the hype everybody’s giving us. We know what we have to do and just have to stay humble and work hard.”

The Daniel product, who’s posted 87 tackles over the last two years, is taking in each day on the field with the paw on his helmet.

“I remember just yesterday as a freshman coming in,” Williams said. ”Now, being a senior – this is my last one so I need to make it count. Grady (Jarrett) told us the first practice to take every practice as your last because we don’t have any more. This is my last go ‘round and I’m going to push my teammates and my teammates are going to push me. We’re going to ride out with this thing.”

He says for a unit that already excels in making plays in the backfield – a third-year in Brent Venables’ system spells even more trouble for opposing offenses.

“That confidence goes with the knowledge of the playbook,” said Williams. “Being here three years in the scheme – we can call out things before it even happens. Now we can play free. It’s third-and-long and we can just pin our ears back with great defensive ends.

“Our secondary and our front-seven will be good so we can be confident in the scheme.”

Inter-team competition will keep things fresh as well, as he knows the seniors aren’t guaranteed spots with some of the talent lined up behind them.

“Coach (Dan) Brooks isn’t showing favoritism,” he said. “He’s going to play the best. If you’re practicing and performing the best, he’s going to play you. There’s no favoritism. We’re all going out there like our job’s on the line and we’re not comfortable at all.”

Among those fighting for time will be sophomore defensive end Shaq Lawson, who posted four sacks and earned freshman All-American honors. Redshirt sophomore tackle Carlos Watkins returns after sitting out the season after a car accident.

Junior tackle D.J. Reader should compete for a starting role after another high tackle-to-snap ratio last season (.126).

“I’m confident in what type of guys we got,” Williams said. “Y’all see we’ve got Carlos (Watkins), D.J. (Reader), Rod (Byers), Scott (Pagano) and we’ll have some more guys coming – they do a good job recruiting. They know it’s our last go ‘round and they listen to us and now we’re the leader of the pack. They’re following in our footsteps. I have full confidence when we leave they’re going to dominate and still be the same.”

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Comments » 4

kellytown writes:

I can't wait for our season to begin. Its been a long time since we have had this kind of depth on D. I know we were very good last season but this season is going to be over the top. I hope everyone stays healthy during the spring and fall on both sides of the ball.

CharlestonTiger writes:

I feel confident that the D-line will be very good, however I am apprehensive to assume that this will be a great defense overall.

I think the loss of Shuey is being underestimated. It wasn't very long ago that our linebackers were terrible and frequently taking bad angles or out of position. Hopefully Steward / Boulware / Jones can do a good job of filling the void left by Shuey, but I will have to see to believe. Anthony is on the way to becoming a great linebacker.

Clemson hasn't been good or even solid at corner in a long time. The talent is there and hopefully it will be developed quick enough to become a strength instead of a weakness like years past.

The safety positions were also far from good last season. I like the potential Kearse showed, but he blew several coverages and was out of position a lot. I chalk most of that up to being a true freshman and hope he will improve significantly in year 2. I think moving Blanks back to Nickel is a good move, he seemed better there as a freshman than he did last year at safety.

I guess that I'm just being cautiously optimistic about the 2014 defense. It has great potential but also plenty of question marks as well.

TigerFan95 writes:

Charleson, I think most tiger fans would agree with you. We’ve heard words and phrases like “potential”, “special” and “we gonna be” way too often the last few years. I feel optimistic about the up-coming season as well, but until I see it on the field I’m still skeptical about all this talk about how great our defense is going to be. It’s time for Dabo to put-up or shut-up. Anything less than 9-3 including a win over SC and it’s time to move on.

clemvol writes:

I'll take 1-11 and you know the ONLY win that is a must. Prove it or move it.

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