Koenning: Chambers Proving Himself

CLEMSON – Probably the one player that has been maligned more than anybody else by defensive coordinator Vic Koenning is Sadat Chambers. No matter the circumstance, it always seemed as though Chambers was doing something wrong.

As a case in point, when starting safety Michael Hamlin went down with a foot injury, it meant that Chambers would have to be elevated on the depth chart. Koenning responded that Chambers has more lives than a cat.

Well, apparently Chambers has used up another life of his as he is now the second team Sam linebacker behind starter Maurice Nelson.

"We're trying to find some help at Sam," Koenning said. "It has been a major concern. We've really got to get something out of that position that's not just a run (stopping) player. That position is a multifaceted position where you've got to have a really talented player, probably more so than what the Bandit position is. "We've got to get production out of that position. We have really had to change things that we do because of that."

Chambers, who had been practicing at both Sam and safety in recent weeks, played 17 plays at Sam against Georgia Tech.

This is the third position the redshirt freshman has played during his tenure at Clemson. He's moved from cornerback to safety to linebacker.

But it helps that Nelson is taking Chambers under his wing.

"Maurice has been a tremendous help," West said. "He's like a coach out there."

Even though he's undersized at 200 pounds, Chambers fits in perfectly at the position for pass coverage, which is when he's primarily used.

"His foot speed is pretty doggone good," said Sam linebacker coach Ron West. "I'm going to try and keep Maurice fresh and play Sadat a little more. He's focused on learning the scheme and he's responded real well and I don't think he wants to make a mistake. He really is sincere about it.

"He's tough enough. You'd like a bigger guy, but he's tough enough. He adds some speed to the position kind of like (Tramaine) Billie."

While it's still early in the process and Chambers continues to make a mistake here and there, Koenning and West are pleased thus far with his effort and attitude.

"(We moved Chambers) out of necessity and he's actually responded some and starting to improve and he's more into it," Koenning said. "He understands what's going on behind him from being back there. He understands what everybody is supposed to do better. Maurice is better at playing in the box. That's why we had him at Will, where he was doing a great job."

8 or more in the box
Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence is convinced the Hokies will do everything possible to stop the run, or at the very least try and slow it down, and make the arm of quarterback Will Proctor beat them.

"They will get as many as legally allowed in the box, I'm sure," Spence said. "I know there will be quite a few people in there from the tackle to tackle area. … They're certainly going to want to see just how many it's going to take to stop our run game. I'm sure they're devoted entirely to doing that."

That may be a concern to some Clemson fans after the struggles Proctor has endured in two of the last three games. But Spence has full confidence in his quarterback and believes the decreased number of throws due to the success of the running game is a contributing factor in Proctor's play.

"It's hard to get into a rhythm when you're not throwing the ball," Spence said.

Truly special teams
Virginia Tech is known as the team with the best all-around special teams year-in and year-out. The Hokies have a ridiculous amount of blocked punts and field goals that have netted touchdowns and turned the momentum in too many games to count.

Clemson assistant coach Billy Napier, who is in charge of the punting unit, said there's no secret to the Hokies' success in those areas.

"I think it's a mentality and a lot of it comes down to their athleticism," Napier said. "Some of the best players on their team are on the punt-block team. Somewhere down the road under Coach (Frank) Beamer, they got really good at it. And that pride in that unit over the years has grown and grown and grown. And now it's just a tradition for them to be successful in that area."

Quick Hits
Tight end Thomas Hunter didn't practice in pads Tuesday and is listed as doubtful. The results of an MRI done on his shoulder were negative, meaning there is no structural damage to his shoulder. In his place, true freshman Michael Palmer will play in one and two tight end sets, with redshirt freshman Durrell Barry filling that void in three tight end sets. …

Reserve safety Chris Russell isn't likely to see much of the field anytime soon. He is in defensive coordinator Vic Koenning's doghouse and hasn't practiced well the last two weeks. There is also a confidence problem Russell is struggling with. …

Spence is very, very familiar with the defensive schemes used by Virginia Tech. It turns out that it's the exact same defense used at Toledo, which Spence's offense went against every day in practice. In fact, the Toledo coaching staff actually went to Virginia Tech to learn the defensive schemes.

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