Defensive Observations From Clemson Spring Game

CLEMSON- Much of the attention this spring has focused on Garrett Riley and the Tigers’ new offense, but it was the defense that ruled the day in the Clemson spring game.

Led by Cade Klubnik, the Tigers’ first team offense played for the White team and managed just 313 total yards. The Orange squad, which mostly consisted of the second and third team, failed to produce 200 yards on the day.

The defenses combined to pick off four passes, one that was returned for a touchdown, and produced seven sacks and 15 tackles for loss.

Defensive Observations

  • After failing to live up to lofty expectations last season, Wes Goodwin’s defense looks primed to take a step back towards being elite. Both groups were aggressive and displayed a level of physicality not always seen in spring games. Combined, the running game was held to under 2.3 yards per carry.
  • The hype surrounding Peter Woods is very real. Woods was absolutely dominant at times. The freshman was routinely manhandling offensive linemen and made a living in the backfield. Woods resembles a seasoned vet more so than a freshman, as he finished the day with seven tackles and a sack. He also blocked an extra point.
  • It also looks like the staff hit on all of the other early enrollees along the defensive line. Vic Burley, Stephiylan Green and T.J. Parker were all impressive in their debuts. Parker and Green both registered sacks.
  • One of the weak links a season ago was the pass defense. Dabo Swinney has said on more than one occasion that is an area that needs significant improvement. If Saturday is any indication, the secondary does look to be much improved. Coverage was tight and defensive backs were getting hands on balls. There were 11 passes broken up between the two teams and four interceptions. Khalil Barnes had a pick six and Andrew Mukuba almost returned an interception for a touchdown. Nate Wiggins and Toriano Pride both played extremely well.
  • Mukuba looks like he is ready to put the injury riddled 2022 season behind him. He said recently he is feeling the best he has felt since his freshman season and on Saturday that looked to be the case.
  • Barnes was another freshman that impressed. He plays physical and his coverage abilities are readily apparent. Shelton Lewis also flashed.
  • Barrett Carter and Jeremiah Trotter just might be the best combination of inside linebackers in the country.
  • Cade Denhoff looks like he might be ready to take that next step.

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