Koenning Concerned with Depth

CLEMSON – There's little question that the starting 11 players on the Clemson defense are good at what they do. However, it's the next 11 or so that has some coaches with the Tigers concerned.

Saturday's scrimmage was a carbon copy of what happened in the Spring Game earlier this year.

The starting defense did a good job of keeping the offense in check. But when the substitutes were put on the field, points and yardage were being compiled at an alarming rate.

"It just showed us how far we've got to go," defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said.

"Obviously, it's never as bad as it seems and never as good as it seems, but just like in the spring, there's a big separation between our ones and our twos. We're trying to sub a bunch of twos in to get them experience against the fastballs. A lot of the big plays we gave up, we didn't have our starting guys. But that's just a sign of how far we've got to come because we can't have just one unit and be in the South."

If things don't improve dramatically over the next three weeks, expect to see one substitute at a time rather than wholesale changes. This way, the defense isn't weakened much.

"What happens is after about six or eight plays, then we're mixing and matching and at times we had the third defensive front in there against ones," Koenning said of the scrimmage. "But that's part of the deal. We've got to get those guys ready. We know Charles Bennett can play and we'll see it in games. But we've got to get those other guys (ready). It's like they take two steps forward and one step back. We've just got to find a way to get the most out of them and we're not obviously there yet. Koenning hasn't given up hope yet that he players will eventually come around. But until that time comes, it could be painful for him to watch.

"We've got a long way to go, but I'm glad we've still got three weeks to go," he said. "We've got enough guys that have got some talent but we've just got to figure out a way to get them motivated. That's why they call us ‘Coach.' "

More McDuffie News
Unless there is a rash of injuries to the defensive line, Chris McDuffie will be an offensive tackle for the rest of his stay at Clemson.

"He's a big, strong, powerful youngster," offensive line coach Brad Scott said. "When I put him in the one-on-one drills, he's real strong and came off the ball really good. … He doesn't know the first play, so we're going to have to start at scratch with him. …

"He's excited about the move, because he's been an offensive lineman in high school and prep school. We played him on defensive line because we were shorter on numbers. He's happy about it and I'm really happy. I don't know where I'll play him yet. I'll get him in the two-deep very quickly and then we'll see."

Scott said that there was, "no question," that he expects McDuffie to contribute this season.

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