Who will rush the passer?

SENECA - The lack of experienced depth at defensive end is enough to keep the Clemson defensive coaching staff up at night.

Malliciah Goodman, the only senior defensive end on Clemson's roster, is far and away most experienced player at the position. He's played in all 41 games during his career [15 starts] and recorded 122 tackles and 12 tackles for loss.

The next most experienced defensive end on the roster is Corey Crawford, who played 252 snaps as a freshman in 2011.

Moving back to end is Tavaris Barnes, who logged 73 snaps as a tackle last season. Also a redshirt sophomore, Victor Beasley played 16 snaps.

Redshirt freshman Roderick Byers will be joined by freshmen Shaquille Lawson and Martin Aiken.

Aiken followed in the footsteps of former Bamberg defensive ends Ricky Sapp and Da'Quan Bowers when he signed with Clemson.
At the Dabo Swinney media golf outing, defensive ends coach Marion Hobby wouldn't rule out the possibility of Lawson and Aiken both avoiding a redshirt in 2012.

"I don't think any of us can sit back and say we can't count on them, if they're ready to play, they pick up the scheme well, they show their work habits," Hobby said. "If they can protect themselves out there, 18-year-old young man dealing with 21, 22-year-old men, it's a little bit different up front than it is on the back end.

"Those boys, they get ready. They can hug them and kiss them and send them out against Auburn and say, ‘Come back and be a man, son.'"

Crawford will be counted on to Andre Branch. In 2011, Crawford was in on 29 tackles and had two tackles for loss

"One thing about Corey, he's very conscientious about football. He's done well since he's been here," Hobby said. "We've all got to remember that he was a true freshman last year…he's taking his summer seriously. We put challenges out to him that he's got to prove, to help his game. That's weight loss, getting bigger and stronger and just being a leader, too."

The Tigers' second-year assistant believes Crawford has good things ahead of him.

"He will be a vocal leader. There's natural leadership ability about him. I think that comes from him coming from the high school he came from, and the work ethic that have been put into him," Hobby said. "I think he's got a great upside."

Goodman, of course, will be the main cog at the position.

"Malliciah is such a -- knock on wood -- dependable technician," Hobby said. "You've got a guy out there that you trust. It's hard to pull him out of the game."

Though Goodman has recorded just five sacks during his three-year career, Hobby won't put too much pressure on him to pick up where Branch left off.

"I just need him to be a solid leader, a solid left end for us," Hobby said. "The sacks will come, the tackles for loss. We always give out opportunity grades. That's the opportunity you had to make a play. That's a big thing for me. If he goes and gets a 66 in opportunity grade and never gets a sack, he's helping Clemson.

"I'm good with that as well. I don't want to put his whole year based on sacks."

But a double-digit sack season certainly would go a long way in helping the Clemson defense in 2012.

Entering a season in which so many questions exist on the offensive line, many exist in Clemson's front four on defense as well.

And finding a quality pass rusher is paramount if this team is to live up to expectations.

CUTigers.com Top Stories