Coach Hobby Talks DL Concerns

CLEMSON – With each passing day, there seems to be more and more talk about how some members of the Clemson football coaching staff is disappointed with the depth and play on the defensive line.

However, defensive line coach Marion Hobby thinks some of the concern is warranted, but not to the great extent to which the line has been criticized thusfar.

"The biggest concern is how they play when the lights come on," he said. "I want to see how they play when the lights come on. They might be different guys when the lights come on and we've got to see who can play once were (at Death Valley). Not many teams have a strong two-deep that can go in at any situation in the ball game and play. I know I haven't been that fortunate yet as a coach. If we get better day-to-day and we get better week-to-week, we'll be in good shape."

As of Monday, Hobby has been pleased with the play of first-teamers Charles Bennett, Trey Tate and Donnell Clark. Gaines Adams, who is coached by Ron West, also starts on the line as at Bandit.

Hobby said Rashaad Jackson would be the first player off the bench right now, with Jacquez McKissic and Phillip Merling rounding out the second team.

And it's with these backups where the true worries lie.

"I think we're all concerned because we haven't played a game," Hobby said. "Two of the three starters are guys that have played a lot of football. You've got Clark, you've got Tate and you've got Bennett. And then you look at the guys that are behind them, red-shirt freshman Jacquez McKissic, red-shirt freshman Rashaad Jackson and you have a true freshman in (Phillip) Merling, so it's a concern on how they're going to perform."

The backups' grasp of the new defense apparently has been much of a problem, but their youth has reared its ugly head. But with each practice, there's more and more hope both units up front will deliver exactly what Hobby and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning expect.

"I think they've come along fine," Hobby said. "It's up to the head coach to make that final call to where they're going, but I think they've come along fine."

However, the biggest disappointment thus far through August has been the play of Cory Groover, who as a senior was counted on to provide an anchor in the middle and leadership.

To date, he's provided neither as he's fallen from a starter's role to that of second and third team.

"He's got to step up," Hobby said. "He's got behind and he hasn't been consistent. Some of these guys have played harder and he just hasn't been consistent. We've got to weed him through that." Top Stories