Defense down two DBs for spring game, freshman receives praise

Defense down two DBs for spring game, freshman receives praise

Football

Defense down two DBs for spring game, freshman receives praise

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Clemson will be without two of its defensive backs when it takes to the field Saturday at Death Valley for the Orange & White Spring Game.

Clemson announced cornerback Mario Goodrich and safety Andrew Mukuba will not be available to play in the game. Goodrich will miss the game due to a death in the family, while Mukuba will miss because of an arm injury he sustained in practice.

Mukuba’s injury is not considered serious and the Tigers plan to have him back and ready to go when they start fall camp in August.

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables also mentioned Malcolm Greene was injured early in spring practices and has missed most of the spring, while fellow corners Andrew Booth and Sheridan Jones missed considerable time this spring to due to injury or protocol.

As head coach Dabo Swinney reported a few weeks back, Greene had shoulder surgery during spring break and missed the entire second part of spring drills.

Mukuba came over from his safety position to help out before he got hurt. Venables said the freshman played about 50 snaps at safety and did a good job, overall.

However, the two corners who have played the best this spring are Goodrich and freshman Nate Wiggins.

“Nate Wiggins had a really good spring. He has a long way to go. But he has length. He has toughness,” Venables said. “He has led us in interceptions this spring. He has really good speed. He has a lot of refinement to do. But he is going to have to help us.

“Mario, overall, took the most snaps, and showed the most versatility. Probably had the most consistent spring. Sheridan (Jones) missed a good part as well to protocol, so, obviously, that’s not good. But he came back and the last couple of days he has looked good. He has been a very consistent player for us.”

Venables said Booth missed time this spring, as well, but he has come back and looked good the last couple of practices.

“We need Booth to become that consistent player for us. And Fred Davis, too,” the Clemson coach said. “They have both had really excellent moments for us this spring and we are just looking for them to be consistent.

“It is good to get Andrew back out here this week.”

Venables said his corners will consist of Booth, Jones and Davis, while Goodrich and Greene will make up the other side, along with Wiggins.

“We have some other guys that can play there, and they have had great attitudes and they have really grown and improved in all the areas that you want them to, whether it is playing the ball or its winning on the releases,” Venables said. “You have to win early to have any chance to win and compete late in a route. They are really focused on winning early with the right kind of alignments and techniques and then again playing the ball in the air and being physical.

“We have to win the perimeter. We have dominated the perimeter in the ten years that I have been here, and the perimeter has not been an issue. Last year, I thought we were soft on the perimeter. I thought people in the run game and the RPOs and all of that, I thought we were soft and that is just running the ball.”

Venables said it has been a point of emphasis to get back to being tougher on the perimeter.

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