By Colby Lanham // Athletic Communications
Spring practice is well underway for Clemson and has begun to spark excitement for the 2015 season that’s well over five months away.
One of the biggest storylines for Clemson in 2015 will be retooling its defense, where the Tigers lose seven starters from a unit that was ranked No. 1 in 2014. Clemson’s defense led the nation in yards allowed per game (260.8) and yards allowed per play (4.08) while leading in 11 defensive categories. Clemson will be without all-time sack leader Vic Beasley along with defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, linebacker Stephone Anthony, and cornerback Garry Peters, all of whom were All-ACC standouts.
Without a bulk of the Tigers’ recent foundation that helped lead the program to four straight 10-win seasons, many eyes will be on how the Tigers’ new faces steps up to the plate on defense. Sports Illustrated writer Zac Ellis previews how Clemson’s defense looks to remain dominant in 2015:
This spring defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd and tackle D.J. Reader have taken control of a line that will badly miss Beasley and Jarrett. Venables singled out Mackensie Alexander, a former five-star recruit, andJayron Kearse as leaders in the secondary, where the Tigers must replace Peters’s production.
Swinney used Ben Boulware as an example of a player who has waited his turn on Clemson’s depth chart. A rising junior who was one of the team’s best backups in 2014, Boulware will be asked to shore up the linebacking corps. “It’s going to be a blast to watch him unleash his frustration of two years of having to watch Stephone Anthony and those guys and bide his time a little bit,” Swinney said.
-Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated Staff Writer
And if there’s one thing Clemson’s defense has shown over the past few seasons, it’s that they thrive when they play with a chip on their shoulder. And it looks like it won’t be going away anytime soon.
February 17, 2019