Dabo likes the 'backer depth

CLEMSON - There really wasn't much linebacker depth to speak of during Dabo Swinney's first four years at Clemson.

But the Tigers' coaches have stockpiled plenty talent over the last few years. And there's experience at the position, too.

This season's starters, Quandon Christian, Stephone Anthony and Spencer Shuey, all started in 2012. Behind the trio is a talented group of backups that includes Tony Steward, Kellen Jones, T.J. Burrell, B.J. Goodson and Ben Boulware.

Seven of those linebackers logged defensive snaps against Georgia on Saturday night. According to Swinney, Anthony played better than everyone in the group.

"We've got very good depth at that position," Swinney said. "Probably didn't do as good a job at rotating Steph and Shuey like we needed to, because I thought Stephone -- he definitely played the best of our backers, very, very physical, very engaged -- but I thought he was a little gassed at the end.

"We can do a better job there of keeping him fresher in the fourth quarter, because we've got good players."

That will be the mode of operation in 2013 -- going two, sometimes three deep at each of the three linebacker positions.

"We definitely want to continue to develop the depth and get guys opportunities. I think you'll see more and more of that as we go throughout the season," Swinney said.

Sunday wrap-up

Swinney addressed the linebacker rotation during his weekly Sunday teleconference. Among the topics he also covered was the 38-35 win over Georgia.

"It was just a great team win," he said. "The team was ready for the moment. Just proud of the staff and the heart and toughness that our players played with all night. They gave us everything they had."

Swinney added, "I feel good about how our team performed, how they competed and the type of effort and toughness that they displayed.

"If we can continue to get that, we have a chance to be a consistent football team."

Trouble at WR?

Sammy Watkins let one go through his hands at the goal line. Swinney acknowledged that the throw was a little high and a little too hot. But it was one Watkins usually makes.

That wasn't the only pass that hit a Clemson wide receiver in the hands, but landed on the ground.

"We had one on Charone. He really makes a nice catch and he just doesn't get the ball tucked away. He didn't transition it properly," Swinney said. "The DB gets his hand in there and knocks it out. If he just transitions the ball to the tuck a little sooner, we probably have that one.

"There was another, just the position of the ball and letting the ground cause the [drop]. We certainly weren't as sharp as we needed to be at wideout, but it's a position I'm not very concerned about. I think we've got great talent."

Martavis Bryant wasn't perfect either.

"He's been outstanding, all spring and all fall camp, really great play after play after play," Swinney said. "I kind of look at it like last year with Brandon Ford. We saw the same thing. He was so good as Robin. Then, all of a sudden he was Batman against Auburn. That first night, he didn't handle it very well. He went on to have a great year. The same thing, I think, is Martavis' case."

More freshmen

Five true freshmen played against Georgia -- Mike Williams, Cordrea Tankersley, Shaquille Lawson, Korrin Wiggins and Boulware. Two more are expected to play against South Carolina State next weekend.

Jordan Leggett will provide depth at tight end and Mackensie Alexander is slated to work in at cornerback.

"I expect both of them to ready. They'll both be full-go in practice, starting [Monday]," Swinney said. "We'll see how they practice. We expect them to be ready to play on Saturday, right now. Feel good about where Mackensie is. Hopefully, he doesn't have any setbacks. As far as Jordan, I think he'll be ready."

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