Hobby Previews Defensive Line

Adjusting to a new job, new surroundings and most importantly, new players, defensive line coach Marion Hobby is feeling right at home as the Tigers begin preparations for the 2005 season.

"I tell you, the coaching staff has really been great to me," Hobby said in a recent interview with CUTigers.com. "They've opened up their homes to me to make me feel more comfortable. Next thing you know you are in spring ball, learning a new defense. It's been a fast-paced situation, but everything is going really well."

Hobby, who arrived in Clemson in late January from Mississippi, will be under the spotlight this season as the Tigers' new defensive line coach. After all, he'll be inheriting a group that has tremendous talent, but also has several concerns when it comes to overall depth.

Led by defensive end Charles Bennett, tackle Cory Groover, and bandit Gaines Adams, much is expected from this unit throughout the course of the 2005 season. On paper, there is a nice combination of size, speed and experience.

However, at the two end positions, there are depth concerns highlighted by three players with little or no experience. For instance, backing up Bennett will be little used reserves Brandon Cannon and Kwam Williams, while Adams will have redshirt freshman Cortney Vincent behind him.

The combined snap counts of those three players is 47. (Cannon - 35, Williams - 12, Vincent - 0).

And don't forget about Cory Groover. Groover was shot in the leg in early May in a clear case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Since that time, there have been legitimate concerns about his status, and his overall health entering the start of fall practice.

Not to worry, says Hobby.

"He's really done a great job this offseason. Coach Batson has done a great job with him and Cory has really pushed himself to get back earlier. He's doing well, and he's running well. As far as I know, I'm looking forward to working with a healthy Cory Groover (at the start of practice).

And as far as depth concerns go, don't forget about two younger players that could be poised to make an impact in redshirt freshmen Dorrell Scott and Rashaad Jackson.

Early returns from Hobby have been very positive regarding their development.

"I tell you, that Rashaad Jackson has had the hardest job, but he's brought it upon himself because he is so talented," Hobby said. "I moved him from nose guard to three technique, and from three-technique to end. I'm trying to find a place for him to play because he showed me in the spring that he can make plays and that he loves the game.

"Dorrell Scott, he's another big time talented guy. I think we are going to settle him in at tackle. I would tell everybody on the defensive line to look out for Dorrell Scott. Don't go to sleep on him."

Another player not to go to sleep on obviously is Gaines Adams. Moving into the new "bandit" position, Adams will specialize in rushing the passer, but he'll also be depended on to drop back into coverage when needed.

"Gaines Adams is a special talent at defensive end. He's got the size, he's got the speed. He's got the tenacity. I think he's going to get better as the year goes on," said Hobby. "And to me, I just want to see us get better from game to game. We started to get better as the spring went on. Let's start with Texas A&M now."

Of course, the Tigers open the 2005 season against the Aggies, and according to Hobby, the coaching staff is already deeply involved in how to handle A&M's big offensive line.

"We've looked at film on the first game, that's my main focus right now. I think we are going to have to play a lot of guys because they are a big massive offensive line. It's going to be hot, but the good news is that it's at home this year.

"But when you've got four competitive coaches like Coach Koenning, Coach West, Coach Blackwell, in that room, we're tuned up. We want to shut them down. We don't want anybody to get a yard, but we've also been coaching long enough to learn that when they do get a yard, we have to rally the troops and learn to play again and again."

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