Spring game should be defensive

CLEMSON — From what Dabo Swinney said on Wednesday after his Clemson football team wrapped up its last hard-hitting practice of the spring – fans can expect a defensive day Saturday as the Tigers conclude spring practice with the annual Orange and White game at Memorial Stadium.

Though he has been pleased with the overall production of his defense this fall, Swinney in his own way challenged his defensive players after the offense had their way with them in Wednesday's mini-scrimmage.

"Defensively we have had a great spring, but (Wednesday) was a little disappointing for me," he said.

It was disappointing because the defense gave up 21 points right off the bat and as he described wasn't ready to play.

Rendrick Taylor busted off a 50-yard touchdown in the scrimmage, while the passing game got big plays from Brandon Ford, Xavier Dye and Terrance Ashe.

"I don't think they (the defense) came ready to play until it was 21-0 and you can't show up at 21-0," Swinney said.

This wasn't the first time Swinney challenged his defense this spring. He did the same thing after the offense ran over them for 200 rushing yards in the first major scrimmage of the spring. In that game, the defense gave up touchdown runs of 25 yards to Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper and a 28-yard touchdown pass from Willy Korn to Marquan Jones.

They answered Swinney's challenge that time by dominating last week's scrimmage. They forced a couple of turnovers, shut down the running lanes when the offense did try to run and limited the big plays. The first-team defense did not allow a touchdown.

"Defensively, we are getting people in the right places… We are playing with toughness on that side of the ball that we need," Swinney said.

The defense should have a better day Saturday considering the team has been split into two squads. In the past, defenses have generally favored better in these types of games.

Offenses generally lose their rhythm and the offensive lines have little continuity because there are first, second and third team guys trying to work together for the first time. These are guys that usually seldom work together in practice or play together in games.

It's also difficult for the quarterbacks because usually the game plans in spring games are simple because the game is on television and there are certain things coaches do not want opponents to see.

"Obviously, we will be real vanilla on Saturday and will not do everything," offensive coordinator Billy Napier said. "But we will throw the ball around and let (our quarterbacks) make some decisions.

"On both sides of the ball we have a real specific plan on what we are going to do. The game is on TV and that is part of it as well."

And like the offense, the defense will be vanilla too. They will more than likely be in a basic 4-3 set with very little blitzing and moving around. However, these kinds of conditions generally favor the defenses because they are reacting instead of having to execute like the offenses have to do.

Plus their head coach called them out after the last practice.

CUTigers.com Top Stories