Notebook: DBs Showing Improvement

CLEMSON – There's been a lot of concern with the backups in the secondary, especially at the corners. By most accounts, no one has created the kind of separation that would lead defensive coordinator Vic Koenning to create a concrete depth chart.

But in Koenning's estimation, that is a good thing. That's because in the last scrimmage the corners were solid as a whole.

As it stands as of noon Monday, immediately behind Duane Coleman and C.J. Gaddis at cornerback are Sergio Gilliam and Haydrian Lewis.

"Haydrian really played fast in the scrimmage," defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Koenning said. "He didn't always do the right thing, but he was really playing fast."

Behind Mike Hamlin at the "Cat" safety position is Roy Walker and behind Chris Clemons at the free safety spot is Chris Russell.

The third team corners are manned by Ray Ray McElrathbey, who Koenning said was nearly neck-and-neck with Gilliam, and Chris Chancellor and Crezdon Butler, who are also in a tight battle with Lewis.

The depth chart is expected to change on a weekly basis, maybe all the way through the season.

SPILLER THE REAL DEAL: After having enough time to watch in practice and in his first scrimmage, C.J. Spiller is making his teammates and coaches take notice.

"He's as advertised," running backs coach Burton Burns said. "He's extremely talented and he's been blessed with great athletic ability. He's also got great work ethic off the field. He wants to learn the offense, which has been really great."

One of the biggest difficulties a freshman running back has in adapting to Clemson's style of offense is learning how to handle the zone blocking. Tailbacks can't just shoot through a predetermined hole, they have to find one in the scheme and set up his blocks.

"That's what I've been impressed with more than anything," Burns said. "He controls his speed better than I ever thought he would because he's never run in a zone (scheme). Usually for kids like him, it's quite an adjustment to learn how to control their speed. But he has done quite well. He's still got some things to learn and it's a work in progress. But there are better things to come."

MERRIWEATHER CHANGING ROLES: With the emergence of Spiller and the return of ACC Rookie of the year James Davis, don't expect to see Reggie Merriweather carry the ball as many times as he did last year. He may be on the field quite a bit, but it will be more as a blocker than a ball carrier.

It's not the perfect way a senior wants to end his career, but Merriweather has not caused any wave and is doing what is asked of him.

"He'll help us somewhere," Burns said. "He's accepted his role, which is the type of kid he is. He's a team player. He realizes that he will have a role, whether it's eight plays, 10 plays or 12 plays a game. That's what he's really preparing himself for right now."

QUICK HITS: Bandit and Sam linebackers coach Ron West said he's very happy with the way his top four players are playing. He said Ricky Sapp is doing a good job behind Gaines Adams at Bandit, while Tramaine Billie and Antonio Clay are having solid camps. He added that Billie is running with the first team right now, but once Clay cuts down on the missed assignments, he'll get more playing time. …

Word is that senior punter Cole Chason is having a good camp kicking. After having the worst statistics in all of Division I last season, that's good news for the Tigers. Richard Jackson remains sidelined with a hurt back and until he's healthy, it looks as though Chason will handle the punting duties. Top Stories