D-tackles giving RBs nightmares

CLEMSON - Like a young child hearing a ghost story, Jamie Harper's eyes tell the story of Clemson's defensive tackles.

"Oh my goodness they're some monsters," he said.

As the Tigers' defense continues learning its new scheme, the offense is still picking up on the nuances of Kevin Steele's blitzes and stunts. Since the defense is familiar with most of the plays that the offense runs, Harper doesn't like seeing tackles like Brandon Thompson and Jarvis Jenkins in his face as he's taking a handoff.

An imposing 5-11, 225-pound running back, Harper is glad he doesn't have to see those 300 pounders breaking through the line on game day.

"You just have to grit your teeth and get ready," he said. "They're monsters."

The monsters Harper speaks of aren't just Thompson and Jenkins. There's also Jamie Cumbie, Rennie Moore and Miguel Chavis—all of whom are expected to make contributions from the interior.

Jenkins has a lot of trust in the guys behind him and Thompson. There's no drop off when either steps off the field for a breather.

Brandon Thompson (pictured above) and Jarvis Jenkins are expected to be a strength of Clemson's defense this coming season.
"The whole defensive line, even the depth, we're really physical," he said. "We've just got to play smart to live up to the hype that's being built around us."

Leading a defense that Coach Dabo Swinney has hailed as a salty bunch, the expectations for the Tigers' defense are beginning to build and it's starting up front.

"We do our job so everyone else can do their jobs," Thompson said. "It's all about the defense working together. If everyone does their jobs, we can be as good as we want to."

There may have been some individuals he faced last year that stand out as the best. But Harper believes there wasn't a unit last year that compares to the Clemson defensive tackles.

"As a group we have a terrific defensive line," he said.

Even with 91 yards rushing in Tuesday's scrimmage, Harper said there weren't many of them that came easy.

"Nothing is a cake walk with this defensive line. One play we might come off the ball and get them. The next play, they split a double team and will be in the backfield," he said.

Excited about being part of a defense that could begin to turn heads nationally, Thompson looks forward to the opener against Middle Tennessee. If anything, it will be a chance to show the Clemson faithful the progress he and his fellow tackles have made from the spring.

"We want to show the fans how hard we've worked," he said. "In the off-season, we busted our tails. We're ready to show that."

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