Monday Clemson football notebook

CLEMSON - Two DBs talk about their new coach, Giff Timothy evaluates his peers and Brent Venables talks about the search for difference makers.

In December, just a couple of days into the start of bowl practice, Charlie Harbison left for the defensive backs coach position in Auburn.

His successor, Mike Reed, spent the previous six seasons as the defensive backs coach at N.C. State.

"[Reed's] a great guy, a great coach," said Darius Robinson, who was recruited to Clemson by Harbison. "[Reed] definitely knows what he's talking about. He stresses technique. He's just a confidence builder for all of us."

Travis Blanks also had plenty of good things to say about his new position coach.

"We all love coach Reed," Blanks said. "He's a great teacher. We learn so much from him. He played in the league. He really digs in and works on our fundamentals and our technique.

"We really have taken leaps and bounds, just in the short time that he's been here so far."

Blanks called Reed a "great" teacher of the fundamentals.

"We're learning so much new technique and there's so much that he can add to the positives of our game. He's a great teacher," Blanks said.

Giff's take: improvements up front

Timothy started 11 games at right tackle last season, logging 820 snaps over 12 games. Entering his redshirt junior season, he's seen a lot.

He shared thoughts on the progress of two of the team's young, promising offensive tackles.

"[Eric] MacLain's coming along a lot…he's learning. He's starting to play more physical, because he knows what he's doing. I've been really impressed with him," Timothy said. "[Isaiah] Battle's been learning a lot, too. He's a freak of nature, athletically. He'll be really good for us this year."

Two defensive ends have also caught his eye.

"I've gone up against Corey [Crawford] quite a bit this spring. He's gotten a lot stronger. He's coming off the ball a lot harder already. I've seen a lot of improvement from him and Tavaris [Barnes]," Timothy said. "Tavaris is getting his game together. It'll be good to see him come along this year."

Make a difference

Ideally, Barnes and Crawford will emerge as difference makers for Brent Venables.

According to the second-year defensive coordinator, the Clemson defense is in need of a few of those kinds of players.

"I like the front seven. But do we have any difference makers? When you saw that we've got guys beating guys 1-on-1 what that does to an offense," Venables said. "You saw that in the LSU game. They're playing behind the chains on second-down, because of guys beating guys on first-and-10. It makes a big difference. Hopefully, that will develop in the spring.

"Will it? That remains to be seen.

"Do we need it? Yeah, we do."

Through much of the 2012 season, the Tigers' defense didn't have many.

"Our first half of the year, we weren't beating a lot of guys 1-on-1. We dramatically picked that up. I think, comfort level. And who else knows why? There are other reasons why, I'm sure," Venables said.

He added, "Those guys, up front, you've got to work people 1-on-1. you've got good enough guys, hopeful that will develop."

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