Dabo Swinney has talked about it numerous times throughout the spring and in fall camp. The Clemson head coach believes this is the deepest and most experienced team he has had in his 10 seasons as the Tigers’ head coach.
During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, as second-ranked Clemson prepares for its season-opener against Furman on Saturday, Swinney talked about his team’s depth and how competition thrived throughout preseason camp.
Nowhere is Clemson’s quality depth more evident than on defense, especially in the front seven. The Tigers not only return eight starters from a unit that a year ago ranked second nationally in scoring defense and fourth in total defense, but they also return 14 other players that saw significant playing time as well.
In other words, the defense has a lot of experienced depth.
“We have a lot of guys who played in our two-deep. We still have competition across the board,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “I do think we will continue to nurture the idea that we have competition throughout the season. I think we have quality depth at a few possessions that allow us to do so. I think it will bring out the best in everyone.
“We feel good about where we are at with both our returning experience and the experience we were able to develop last year.”
One area where Clemson can still build a little depth is on the backend of the defense, where it is a couple injuries away from having to move other players around to provide depth. The Tigers are thin at the cornerback position and even thinner at safety where there are walk-ons Kyle Cote and Hall Morton behind second-teamers Nolan Turner and Denzel Johnson.
K’Von Wallace and Tanner Muse are, of course, the starters at safety.
Clemson is in a little better shape at cornerback where they at least have scholarship players Brian Dawkins, Jr. and LeAnthony Williams backing up Trayvon Mullen, A.J. Terrell and Mark Fields. They also have talented true freshmen Kyler McMichael and Mario Goodrich ready to help out.
McMichael is actually the second-team boundary corner behind Mullen. However, keep in mind they are still true freshmen that first got on campus two months ago.
“They have come along,” Venables said. “I don’t know where they quite are on the barometer. Nobody is where you want them to be this early, but I think that growth will take place with the experience they gain and inevitably the failure that they will have, as well, as part of that maturation.
“We are not afforded the same depth there that we are at other positions so we feel good about who we recruited. They both have flashed in fall camp and I’m excited about the future players that they are going to become.”
Everyone will get to see for themselves on Saturday at 12:20 p.m., what the future or at least part of it is going to look like.