When Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was asked about the play of his defensive backs in the Tigers’ scrimmage this past Wednesday, he took a look behind him and said, “I think they are still running. You might want to skip them today.”
Swinney was of course being facetious, but Wednesday was not a good day for the Clemson defensive backs. Quarterbacks Kelly Bryant, Hunter Johnson, Chase Brice and Trevor Lawrence threw seven touchdown passes in total, including a 65-yard Bryant to Amari Rodgers touchdown pass on the third play of the scrimmage.
But unlike defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Swinney was still upbeat when talking about his defensive backs. He continues to praise the play of Trayvon Mullen, A.J. Terrell and Mark Fields.
“I think we have some pretty special guys right there,” he said. “(Tanner) Muse has had a solid spring so has K’Von Wallace. We are just thin there. It is what it is.”
The Tigers are thin in the secondary, especially at cornerback. But help is on the way. The Tigers signed two of the best corners in the country in February in Mario Goodrich and Kyler McMichael.
“We got two great ones coming in here this summer,” Swinney said. “Nolan (Turner) getting hurt did not help. Isaiah Simmons, he makes a mistake, but man! Wow! He makes plays. He erases a lot of mistakes with just his ability. I am really excited about him. We are cross raining him right now so he is getting a little bit of both.”
Simmons is playing the nickel/SAM linebacker position and safety this spring.
Swinney has also been pleased with the play of LeAnthony Williams, who broke up a couple of passes on Wednesday and had a 30-yard interception return. Denzel Johnson is also “getting ready for primetime” and is creeping in that direction.
“I’m encouraged, but we just don’t have the depth that we need right now,” Swinney said. “But we will. We will get there.”