Monday Clemson Football Insider

Today, we present you with some intriguing notes about Cory Groover and his development as a defensive tackle this spring. We also take you further inside the improvement of the defense in Saturday's scrimmage, and offer you several recruiting tidbits on C.J. Byrd.

Groover's Transition Will Take Time
JUCO transfer Cory Groover was expected to come in and grab a starting spot on the defensive line sometime this spring.

For whatever reasons, it hasn't quite happened- at least not yet.

Groover has been taking it upon himself to try and do too much, and that's understandable considering that he's always been one of the best athletes on the field in high school at Hannah-Pamplico, and in junior college at Southwest Mississippi.

"He's used to being the best athlete on the field, period," said his high school coach Stan Drawdy this weekend. "Once he learns that he doesn't have to do everything out there, he'll be just fine."

Drawdy also noted that Groover is adjusting to his new position- defensive tackle.

"That's a new thing for him," said Drawdy. "He's always been an end, but it won't take him long. From what I saw (at practice) yesterday, he's starting to figure it all out. He just has to realize taht he doesn't have to try and do everything out there."

Tommy Bowden also added late last week that Groover has started to come on strong during the last 3 or 4 practices.

Justin Miller and the rest of the Clemson defense looked outstanding Saturday. They looked outstanding until the team went into a goal line scrimmage at the end of the day.
Defense Stepping It Up
There was a unifying theme that came out of Saturday's scrimmage in Death Valley. The defense played outstanding throughout the day, but the unit as a whole couldn't overcome heat and exhaustion to consistently stop the offense on the goal line.

"We kind of let up a little bit there," said Justin Miller. "I think as the year progresses we will get even better. I think it was a lot of brain farts. I don't know if we were as aggressive as we were out in the field. That is disappointing."

"I just think they mentally have to be able to respond when they are called on," said defensive coordinator John Lovett. "They didn't do that down at the goal line to finish the day. That is the only thing."

"We just haven't been good at it all spring. Until we get some tackles to step and play better, it is going to be like that. The line of scrimmage has to get redirected. The rest of it doesn't make any difference. If that doesn't get done we don't stop anybody down there."

Blackwell's Intensity Contagious
If you haven't been fortunate enough to listen to coach David Blackwell talk about his linebackers, or the defense in general during his first year on the job, then you may want to read the following closely.

Blackwell's passion for the game is unparalleled, and you can see that his enthusiasm is starting to translate over to his players.

"I just think the mindset of the defense has got to be 100% all the time, stopping the run and that no one is going to be able to run the football on us," said the Tigers' assistant coach after Saturday's scrimmage.

"When you dominate a scrimmage and then you get down to the goal line...I am not saying we conceded it, but we didn't play well on the goal line. That is an attitude."

Blackwell added that a defense will typically develop around a leader. And so far this spring, he hasn't seen that kind of player emerge on the field.

"I think that is where you miss a DeJuan Polk, a John Leake, a Khaleed Vaughn, who were vocal leaders of our football team. The spring is where you develop those things. We are still searching for a leader. He has to be a leader by how he plays the game."

Byrd Won't Fly Away?
North Augusta wide receiver/defensive back C.J. Byrd has been a hot topic of discussion this spring, and why not?

He only has more scholarship offers than any other player in the state, including LSU, Oklahoma, Michigan, Clemson, South Carolina, and just about every other school you can think of.

One thing we learned about Byrd this weekend is that you shouldn't be surprised to see him stay in-state next February. While national recognition has been consistent since early February, don't be surprised to see that wear off when it comes down to crunch time.

Rumors have persisted that the Byrd family has long since been South Carolina fans and even season ticket holders- don't buy into that either. C.J.'s mother went to South Carolina, but the entire family came away impressed by Clemson's junior day back in early March. In fact, we've been told that the first college football game attended by Byrd was last year when he took in Clemson's homecoming win over North Carolina.

Also, don't forget that head coach Tommy Bowden talked with the Byrd family extensively that afternoon, while just days later, Lou Holtz virtually ignored them during a similar trip to Columbia.

While we are a full 10 months from signing day 2005, you just get the feeling that this is only the beginning of another rollercoaster ride on the recruiting trail.

CUTigers.com Top Stories