Secondary has questions, answers

SUNSET, S.C. - After losing three key players from last year's unit, Clemson's secondary has questions entering the 2011 season. There's also some answers, too.

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CUTigersTV: Charlie Harbison



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Coach Harbison you lose two key players from your group in DeAndre McDaniel and Marcus Gilchrist. Who replaces those players this year?
Harbison: Well, Gilchrist, McDaniel and [Byron] Maxwell are three guys that graduated. Those are guys that it's going to take a committee to replace. But I think guys like Rashard Hall and [Jonathan] Meeks - they will fill our roles at safety. Then you have [Xavier] Brewer, [Martin] Jenkins and [Coty] Sensabaugh will replace Gilchrist at the star. Then the corners you got the two older guys Brewer and Sensabaugh then you got Breeland. Then you got guys like [Darius] Robinson and [Garry] Peters and we'll see how those respond in game situations.

"With me, guys earn reps. They work good as unit and if I feel good about the unit and they are aggressive (then they will play)."

Baushad Breeland was a guy that had a buzz surrounding him during spring practice. He seems like a player you can put out on an island and let him go cover somebody 1-on-1 and you'll be fine. Do you agree with that?
Harbison: Those are some good thoughts. But the thing is, once we start the season we'll see how he handles game situations. We have guys that have some snaps like Coty and Brewer. But to answer your question, we he did have a buzz during spring and he's a guy that I like his size, like a Maxwell.

It sounds like most of these guys will get their chance during game day and who performs the best will play the most after that. Is that accurate?
Harbison: With me, guys earn reps. They work good as unit and if I feel good about the unit and they are aggressive (then they will play). The game does tell a lot. Spring is one thing, games are another.


"We are going to see how things work out. It's matchups for me. He really fits in good matching up with (big) size receivers. So we'll see." - Harbison on freshman corner Cortez Davis. (Roy Philpott)
Gilchrist was the glue that held this secondary together the last couple of years. Who is that new player this year?
Harbison: The guy in charge will be Rashard Hall, Meeks. Those are the guys in charge who are going to take the next step. Understand this about the guys back there- we try to keep it a unit. We don't want to put too much pressure on one guy. We keep it as a unit. We rotate, and that's important. That way guys have game snaps. With a guy like Breeland - that will be the case. And then with the guys that come with the young guys, we'll see how they perform from game to game, snap to snap. But to answer your question - it will be Hall, Meeks and Brewer.

What do you have to have out of Rashard Hall this year?
Harbison: Just do what he's been doing. Do your job. When a guy does his job everyday there's not going to be any problems. He did a good job last year directing traffic. There was so much Gilchrist could do making plays. Hall is standing back there making plays and making calls. I feel good about it and he did it in the spring.

Darius Robinson and Martin Jenkins both played last year in the secondary as freshmen. Is it fair to assume they are in line for more snaps right off the bat?
Harbison: I anticipate more snaps but they have to earn it. Just because they played last year doesn't mean you are going to play more snaps. You've got to earn it. Breeland is in the mix. Cortez Davis is coming in. Robert Smith is there. Then Peters. My thing is, who is going to step up.

Cortez Davis could be one of the tallest corners in college football. Do you anticipate him starting at cornerback or safety?
Harbison: He's a corner. But you know, Gilchrist was a corner, safety and nickel back. We'll start him at corner.

Does his size give him an advantage over some of the other guys you have in your secondary?
Harbison: We are going to see how things work out. It's matchups for me. He really fits in good matching up with (big) size receivers. So we'll see.

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