Entering this season, the biggest question mark about Clemson defensively was how its young defensive line would perform after the entire starting front four from a year ago – Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins – moved on to the NFL.
Through the first three games, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables has been pleased with the performance and growth of the Tigers’ D-line unit, especially the five-man rotation at defensive end – Xavier Thomas, Logan Rudolph, Justin Foster, K.J. Henry and Justin Mascoll.
“I think they’ve gotten better,” Venables said to the media Monday. “I think they’ve gotten noticeably better as a unit, particularly at defensive end where you lost a lot of experience – not just Clelin and Austin … but Richard Yeargin, Chris Register, those guys that are seniors that are always valuable to have. But those five guys are all kind of growing up still.”
Venables also likes what he has seen from the interior defensive linemen, specifically Nyles Pinckney, Tyler Davis, Jordan Williams, Darnell Jefferies and Ruke Orhorhoro.
“Those guys who have all played there inside, you’ve seen them noticeably just get better each week,” Venables said.
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