By Gray Gardner.
Every year spring practice is the time when teams transition from the previous season and look ahead to the next season. Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele hopes the transition goes well as the Tigers look to replace some major holes in the defense.
Out With the Old
Steele was short in speech about defensive ends coach Chris Rumph’s departure to Alabama.
“Chris did a great job and we certainly miss him personally,” Steele said. “As a coach he did a great job for us.”
It’s not just coaches who will be absent from the 2011 Clemson football team. As is certain in college football, several players have been lost to graduation, others to the NFL draft.
“The business we’re in, we don’t have free agency and we can’t draft (players) based on the players we need,” Steele said. “We recruit them, but that’s a little different science. Because of graduation we don’t have the option of having them come back for another year. In fact, if they’re at the end of their contract they can come out early and there’s nothing you can do about that. But we’re happy for those guys who did that.”
“We’ll certainly miss DaQuan (Bowers). He’s obviously one of the better players to play college football the last couple of years at his position. I’ve told a couple of people, you don’t just replace a DaQuan Bowers. You just don’t replace him. But maybe two or three people can. All of that production does not have to come from one guy at one position.”
But replacing Bowers is not as concerning to Kevin Steele as replacing Jarvis Jenkins.
“Probably the biggest thing that concerns me and us as a staff is that Jarvis Jenkins inside there commanded double teams pretty much all year long. And when you can put 98 on one side, Brandon Thompson, and 99 (Jenkins), and command double teams on both sides of the ball, then that’s four guys on two. We were able to handle the rest pretty good. We had a distinct advantage there.”
Finding suitable replacements for the interior defensive line is a priority this spring. But Steele would not spend the day worrying about the loss of past players or worrying about a possible loss of leadership.
“Developing leadership is something that’s always ongoing,” he said. “We’re in a constant motion of developing leaders. We have a theme around here, that probably the biggest responsibility of being a leader is not leading other people; it’s teaching others to be leaders. So that process is passed on.”
With that he added, “Enough said about what we had – we’re going to address it and get it corrected.”
In With the New
Marion Hobby will be taking over Chris Rumph’s duties as defensive ends coach, a hire that Steele is excited about.
“The addition of Marion Hobby is a good addition in that we’re very familiar with Marion,” Steele said.
Hobby coached at Clemson in 2005 and played his college ball at the University of Tennessee from 1986-89. Kevin Steele served as the Volunteers’ secondary coach during the years Hobby was on the team.
“The familiarity of that, the fact that Marion has played in the National football league and the knowledge he has, his rush and protection scheme – all will be very beneficial to us. And he also has been a coordinator, so that will be beneficial to us as well.”