Big shoes to fill

CLEMSON - The departure of Marcus Gilchrist leaves behind several roles in the Clemson secondary this fall.

Xavier Brewer is in the front of the line to take over the job that defensive coordinator Kevin Steele assigned to Gilchrist for the last two seasons.

Gilchrist, who's preparing for this month's NFL Draft, played more snaps than any other Tiger defender during Steele's first two years.

Brewer is ready to help the MIKE relay calls from cornerback and nickel back, or 'Star'.

"It was something I was expecting during the offseason. I was going to have to step up and be a leader, be more vocal. And show more in my play, too, on the field," he told earlier this week. "I'm just ready to take on this role with [Rashard] Hall, [Jonathan] Meeks and Coty [Sensabaugh], just be a leader."

Now in year three of the Steele era, Clemson defenders have used the spring to brush up on the scheme.

"Everything's going good," Brewer said. "Just trying to tighten, because we pretty much know the whole scheme, just trying to tighten everything down, just trying to be perfect every practice-help the young guys out."

While Chad Morris spent the spring installing the base of the Tigers' offense, the defense had to stay in nickel coverage.

"We've been running nothing but nickel, especially against this offense," Brewer said. "They spread us out, so we've been nothing but nickel, really. Very little regular [defensive alignments]."

For Brewer, it's been about sharpening technique and what the alignments and assignments for his 10 teammates.

"That's the fun thing about it, just getting in the film room and studying everything, trying to be perfect every practice. That's what you strive for," he said.

It's a whole different ball game out on the practice field. When the offense gets the tempo ramped up, the defense doesn't have much time to rest between plays.

"You've got to think faster and think on your tires," Brewer said. When you're able to do that, you can play for quarters or however long it takes, any situation. It's pretty fun." Top Stories