Spring practice is all about finding the right pieces and putting them in the right places so they can be successful. Coaches use the 15 practices to experiment a little bit, move guys around to see what works and what doesn’t.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables has used this spring to cross train a lot of his veteran linebackers in the middle, on the weakside and on the strongside. It also gives him the opportunity to see what it looks like to have Tre Lamar and Kendall Joseph on the field at the same time.
To do that, Venables has moved Joseph over to the weakside position, a spot left vacated by the departure of Ben Boulware. With Joseph at weakside, Lamar moves up to the middle spot which is more of his natural position.
“I think he just wanted to see new people in new positions,” Joseph said. “With me playing at WILL means you can throw other players at MIKE. So we’re doing a lot of cross training, but I definitely think he wanted to see me and Tre on the field at the same time to see how it looked.”
This spring, Joseph has played 50 percent of the time on the weakside and the other 50 percent in the middle. However, on Monday he mostly played the weakside position.
“It’s alright. I’m getting the hang of it so it’s just learning the ins and outs of it,” the redshirt junior said. “I can relate to it from playing MIKE and just knowing the defense. Knowing the ins and outs of it and knowing the small things about the position that really make you good at the position. I’m still learning.”
Joseph says playing at weakside linebacker will not change the way he plays or calls the defense or anything of that nature.
“It’s the same thing as last year,” he said. “Being able to stream the calls … It doesn’t matter who’s out there, we are all streaming the calls so it will still be on me to set up the defense and make sure everyone is in the right spot.”
As for Lamar, Joseph says he looks comfortable and the two are working well together.
“He does well. I mean he’s learning and getting more comfortable and you can see the confidence in him,” Joseph said. “He’s setting the front and screaming the defensive calls and communicating. He looks comfortable and he’s a really good middle linebacker.”
Last year, Joseph finished second on the team with 124 tackles, while tying for a team-high 13.5 tackles for loss. He also had 3.5 sacks and 16 quarterback pressures to go along with one interception.
“I think it’s good, with me learning WILL and just understanding the whole defense and the scheme better,” the Belton, S.C., native said. “Because I have to open my book back up … at MIKE I was pretty comfortable and had it nearly all the way down, but at WILL I’m learning what the free safety does and the bouncing corner. I just really understand the whole defense. I think it’s just overall helping me with my knowledge.”
And that is what spring practice is all about.
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