Clemson tight end Braden Galloway saw a lot of action against Brent Venables’ defense as a member of the scout team while serving a suspension during the 2019 regular season.
As well as last year’s defense performed, ranking third nationally in scoring defense (13.5 points per game allowed) and sixth in total defense (288.3 yards per game allowed), Galloway can tell heading into the 2020 season that this year’s defense is different – in a good way.
Based on what he has seen in practice, Galloway believes the Tigers’ defense has grown since last season and improved as an all-around unit from spring practice to fall camp.
“Everybody has grown,” he said, “and I feel like everybody is in a better spot than they were even in the spring.”
The Tigers have the most holes to fill in the secondary after starting cornerback A.J. Terrell and starting safeties Tanner Muse and K’Von Wallace all moved on to the NFL. But Clemson returns a couple of starters in senior safety Nolan Turner and junior cornerback Derion Kendrick, and since the spring, Galloway has noticed a lot of growth from the group of young and inexperienced but talented players Clemson has in the back seven.
“The back seven, I feel like they’ve grown up a lot,” he said. “Obviously we lost a lot of people, so I guess to y’all it wouldn’t really seem like they’ve been growing up. But seeing the back seven from in the spring to now, they’ve grown tremendously. Guys are stepping up.”
Meanwhile, Galloway has been impressed with freshmen defensive linemen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy, a pair of former five-star prospects, and says sophomores such as K.J. Henry and Justin Mascoll have helped make him a better player while competing against him in practice.
“As far as the D-line, the D-line’s grown a lot,” Galloway said. “I feel like the D-line is very deep at D-tackle and D-end. Myles is going to be great. Bryan has been great … and K.J., Mascoll and guys like that have been able to work me, I’m able to work them and we’re just iron sharpening iron and just able to get better like that.”
While the Tigers will run out a different-looking defense in 2020, an integral part of the unit whom Galloway feels isn’t much different from last year is senior linebacker James Skalski.
“Skalski is still the same,” Galloway said with a smile. “Obviously he’s gotten better, but he’s still hard-hitting, always talking, always leading the defense. I feel like from that perspective, nothing’s really changed.”
— photo courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications
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