Following Monday’s practice at the practice fields behind the Allen Reeves Football Complex, Dabo Swinney said he would be disappointed if the depth of Clemson’s defensive line fails to benefit the team this season.
“I’ll be disappointed if it’s not because those guys have been young the last couple of years,” Swinney said. “Last year we could have been more of a veteran group, but Foster was out and (Xavier Thomas) was in and out and not the best version of himself. Myles (Murphy) was a true freshman.”
Lack of depth proved a hindrance for the Tigers last season, particularly in the season finale. But early in camp, the defensive line looks to be a seasoned unit rich with talent.
Clemson has five experienced defensive ends returning in Thomas, Justin Foster, K.J. Henry, Justin Mascoll and Murphy. On the interior line, it returns highly touted tackles in Bryan Bresee and Tyler Davis along with Tré Willimas, Ruke Ohorhoro and Darnell Jeffries behind them.
“But this group right here and where they are right now in every aspect, I’ll be very disappointed if they don’t play like I know they can,” Swinney said of the unit. “They’ve got the experience, they’re in great shape, you’ve got the kind of depth that you want, and they understand the run scheme and the pass scheme.”
Bresee noted that at times last season depth was an issue, not because the defensive line was worn down but because it was hard to stay fresh throughout the game. But this camp has a completely different feel for the sophomore tackle compared to his first fall camp.
“From last year definitely. It was tough at times last year being three or four deep, it can be tough,” Bresee said. “So definitely just seeing it and everybody is getting it now and starting to understand everything and seeing guys come along is really cool to see.”
He’s excited to get on the field and showcase what he thinks possesses the potential to cement itself as the best d-line in the nation.
“It can be huge, and it can be everything. Just keeping guys fresh and ready to go on the field is going to be a huge advantage for us,” he said.