Post spring insider: Defensive end

CLEMSON — Few defensive ends at the college level can recognize a play and break it down as fast as Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers.

"One of this strengths is instincts," Clemson defensive ends coach Chris Rumph said.

No better example of that than in the Gator Bowl against Nebraska.

With the Cornhuskers running a mis-direction play early in the game, Bowers recognized the block was going down the line instead of where the ball was going. Knowing the lineman in charge of blocking him had his momentum going in that direction, Bowers spun out of the block and freed himself up to go to make a tackle, which resulted in one of his three tackles for a loss.

"He has unbelievable instincts. He sees things that we don't," Rumph said. "He will make a play and I will come over ask him how he did that or how did he know that was going to happen? How does he recognize that?"

But Bowers strength is also his weakness. The Bamberg native sometimes runs himself out of play, especially when offenses recognize his over aggressiveness in getting in the backfield. At times he has also knocked his own guys out of the play when he spins right into a blitz or a stunt.

"Those instincts are good when it is just one-on-one, but what happens if a guy is blitzing outside of him," Rumph said. "When he spins, there are two outside and now he is blocking that guy with himself," Rumph said. "It's just things like that."

Clemson's offensive coaches even tried to teach Bowers a lesson in the spring when they ran a naked bootleg with Kyle Parker near the goal line in the second scrimmage of the spring.

Bowers sold on the play fake and was caught up inside the line trying to make a play on what he thought was the ball carrier. Instead, Parker was running right past Bowers, and right to the spot where Bowers was supposed to be for an easy touchdown.

"He has to really, really control it and get locked in and focused," Rumph said. "It is not that he doesn't trust his teammates or trust the defense that is being called and it's not that he is trying to be a hero and tries to make all the plays and be an individual.

"He is just a football player. Sometimes you have to be careful with how you mess with that because you do not want robots out there.

"It's a fine line. You tell them and you teach them about it, but you don't yell and make a big deal about it."

Da'Quan Bowers (6-foot-4, 275 pounds, sophomore, Bamberg, S.C.)
About: Clemson's MVP in the Gator Bowl after he recorded six tackles, including three for a loss. Led the defensive line with 47 tackles and record one tackle every 10 plays. He started six games and was honorable mention freshman All-American by Started six games and record 29 of his 47 tackles in the last seven games.

The positives: Perhaps the best player on the defensive front. Has great instincts and knows how to breakdown a play. Puts himself in good position to make plays. He was almost impossible to block during the spring.

The negatives: His instincts and aggressiveness sometimes take him out of plays and that's why he led the team with 15 quarterback pressures in 2008, but recorded just one sack.

Andre Branch (6-foot-5, 250 pounds, redshirt sophomore, Richmond, Va.)
About: Reserve defensive end last year that played in seven games. He recorded 11 tackles and had one tackle for a loss.

The positives: Is a very intelligent football player that is already being crossed trained to play both defensive end and the bandit end position. Coaches are extremely high on what he brings to the team. Made good progress in the spring and showed glimpses of being a very productive player.

The negatives: Needs to get bigger and stronger. Has the tools to be a very good defensive end, but at 250 pounds he can be pushed around by bigger offensive tackles especially if he has to go inside.

Malliciah Goodman (6-foot-4, 255 pounds, freshman, Florence, S.C.)
About: Enrolled at Clemson in January. He was rated as the No. 11 defensive end in the nation by and was one of only two players from South Carolina to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Game. Also played in the Shrine Bowl and recorded 73 tackles and 15 sacks as a senior. Also had 27 tackles for a loss.

The positives: Is a strong player who uses his speed and quickness to make plays. Started off the spring well, especially during his work in Oklahoma Drills. Coaching staff isn't sure if he will be redshirted or not.

The negatives: His youth. Because of his age, he is still developing physically and needs to put on some weight, while also becoming stronger. He will not cross train at bandit end because Rumph wants him to learn and grow as much as he can at defensive end before throwing other things at him. Top Stories