By Gray Gardner.
CLEMSON, S.C. — Xavier Brewer is the new leader in the defensive secondary. With the absence of Byron Maxwell, DeAndre McDaniel, and Marcus Gilchrist, Brewer has been forced to lead more this off-season – something he said he’s been ready to do since he first arrived in Clemson in 2008.
“Growing up I’ve always been a leader on my team. I’m just trying to lead these young guys and help them learn how to watch film and study film and dissect teams.”
Brewer said his role as a vocal leader has really been amplified this season because he’s “having to quarterback the defense much more.”
“I think the biggest change is really just we’re going to have to communicate a lot more. We have a lot of talent, just a lot of young inexperienced talent. Communication on the field – we’ve got to improve on that more this week to be ready for Saturday.”
Saturday the Tigers take on Troy in the season opener. And while Brewer admitted that the Trojans offer some unknowns personnel-wise, their offense should be relatively familiar for the Tigers’ defense.
“It’s that hurry up offense,” Brewer said. “I think we’ll be ready for it, especially going against our offense. Right after the play’s done they’re running back to the line and we’re running back to the line, too.”
The Trojan offense will be comparable to Chad Morris’ new offense for Clemson – a hurry-up, spread offense that will typically utilize four wide receivers and one running back. The key to their system – much like Morris’ – is the quarterback. Brewer said the Trojans’ quarterback, Corey Robinson, “puts it on the spot most of the time.”
“He’s a very good quarterback in a very good system. We’ve just got to be ready for anything.”
“It looks like they can do a lot of trickery so we’re going to have to be doing our job and communicating, making sure we’re all in the right place.”
Brewer has worked hard this off-season to ensure he’ll be in the right place come September 3rd. Brewer said he’s been ready to get back on the field since the bowl game last December, wanting to “get better at every single thing.”
“I’m really critical on myself to be honest with you. I think I’m my biggest critic,” he said. “Coach Steele’s really hard on us, but I don’t think any body is as hard on me as I am on myself.”
Brewer said he’s improved on “everything” for this season.
“I’m definitely a little bit stronger, feel a little bit faster, quicker. “
Considering the question marks in Troy’s personnel, it will be crucial for the Tigers’ veteran players to be able to react quickly within Kevin Steele’s system on Saturday.
But for Brewer and the rest of his teammates, the focus Saturday is less about Troy’s unknowns and more about getting the “sour taste” out of their mouths.
“We’ve been ready since after the bowl game, since we got back to workouts to try and turn this whole thing around. We don’t ever want to get that again.”