Making a statement

CLEMSON — With all the talk on the offensive line and how much they have improved this spring, Clemson's defensive line decided in Wednesday's mini-scrimmage that it was their turn to shine.

And shine they did.

Thanks to the play of Da'Quan Bowers, Kevin Alexander, Brandon Thompson, Jamie Cumbie and Jarvis Jenkins, the Clemson defense had the upper hand in the scrimmage, much to the delight of head coach Dabo Swinney and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

"The guys up front, they really flashed and showed up today," Swinney said. "Numbers 24, 93, 98, 99 and 8, the thing I was most pleased with is they got some pressure with a four-man rush. They did a good job with that today."

Overall, Steele said the last two practices have been more productive, especially up front.

"We're playing with good intensity and good effort," he said. "We improved our tackling today and that made a big difference. We had some people (hit) out there today and¬ there were some nice licks out there."

And the licks didn't just come from the front four. The linebackers also got after it, including strong side linebacker Scotty Cooper.

"I'm really pleased with what I'm seeing in Scotty Cooper, he is really taking to what Coach Steele is doing, and is improving every day," Swinney said. "That's what spring practice is for. Another guy I'd throw out there who's really catching some eyes is Daniel Andrews. Daniel's a hitter and he made a couple of big hits today."

Swinney and Steele also pointed to the play of the cornerbacks, especially Byron Maxwell and the production they are getting from strong safety DeAndre McDaniel. They also liked the improvement they saw in Sadat Chambers at free safety.

Chambers was burned several times in last week's full scrimmage.

"I think Sadat Chambers is really starting to find his own," Steele said. "He's playing with confidence and has got the athletic skills."

But the most compelling story to come out of the mini-scrimmage was the play of the defensive line. With the rush they were getting on Willy Korn and Kyle Parker, and doing against an offensive line that is much improved, it is only going to make Steele's scheme that much easier to run.

"That's our expectation, of course it'd be our expectations with whoever was up there," Steele said. "But the thing about it here, is those guys have been coached well in the past and they also, at this point in time, get it. They get it.

"They like to rush the passer and they've got the ability to do it."

And that's what they did on Wednesday.

"Today the defense was ready from the first snap," Swinney said. "They did a good job all day, an excellent job in the two-minute drill and in short-yardage situations."


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