Injuries are forcing defense to build its depth

Injuries are forcing defense to build its depth

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Injuries are forcing defense to build its depth

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It was obvious a few times in Saturday’s Syracuse game Clemson was missing defensive tackle Tyler Davis.

It was also obvious they were missing linebacker James Skalski, defensive tackle Jordan Williams and cornerback Derion Kendrick. All four starters missed Saturday’s game at Death Valley, as the top-ranked Tigers allowed a season-high 150 rushing yards, 4.7 yards per carry and 325 total yards.

“We gave up some big plays, but sometimes you can have one bad thing and you think it is all bad,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on Sunday.

Kendrick and Williams were dressed Saturday, but we held out, while Skalski and Davis were on the inactive list for the game.

Though Swinney expects the Tigers to have Kendrick and Williams back this week when they host Boston College, he said it is too early to tell on the return of Skalski (groin) and Davis (lower leg).

“We had several guys that were out, but we are just pleased that it worked out the way it did,” Swinney said. “Guys stepped up and kept playing well. Jake (Venables) did a great job. Jake was tremendous. He and Baylon (Spector) did a great job making the calls, communicating, and setting things.”

Though the Tigers (6-0, 5-0 ACC) were a little shorthanded, they still controlled the game for the most part. The Orange got 14 of their 21 points thanks to a block punt that set up a short field and an interception return for a touchdown.

The defense did give up an 83-yard touchdown pass and a 61-yard run, but the long run did not result in any points because Jalyn Phillips intercepted a pass in the end zone to thwart the drive. The Clemson defensive forced four turnovers overall and got a scoop-and-score from cornerback Andrew Booth in the third quarter.

The Tigers also held Syracuse to 4-of-13 on third down.

“We did a heck of a job. This will be a great way, too, in developing some depth along the way,” Swinney said. “Darnell (Jefferies), we just got him back. This is his first game he has been back and ready to play for a little while… But I was very blessed with how the guys play, and Nyles and Bresee, pretty much took all the snaps in there. We are getting a little thin at D-tackle, but I thought our game plan was good. It gave us a chance to be successful.”

Swinney was pleased overall with the play of the defense and feels the mistakes and miscues will allow the coaches an opportunity to teach and correct.

“All and all, we did a lot of good things and we can continue to build on that, especially with the depth that we are building,” he said.

Clemson will host Boston College next Saturday at Death Valley. Kickoff is set for noon and will be televised by ABC.

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