Clemson Football Analysis: Don’t Worry about the Defense


Here into today’s Clemson football analysis, we take a look at why Clemson Tiger fans shouldn’t worry about the defense this season.

When we take a look at any Clemson football analysis, preview, or predictions, one of the first questions that pop-up is how Clemson will replace all they lost on the defensive side of the ball just a season ago. People begin to list names like Vic Beasley, Corey Crawford, Grady Jarrett, Stephone Anthony, DeShawn Williams, and Josh Watson. This makes the Tiger fan feel bleak about this upcoming season on the defensive side of the ball and takes many back to reminiscing of the West Virginia tragedy that took place at the end of 2011 season in the Orange Bowl. Well, don’t panic yet Clemson fans, because I believe this defense has a chance to prove all the naysayers wrong this year.

More from Rubbing the Rock

Clemson returns a host of players, including names such as Carlos Watkins, D.J. Reader, Kevin Dodd, and Shaq Lawson on the defensive line. Backing these guys up are more talented players named Christian Wilkins, Albert Huggins, Scott Pagano, Chris Register, Richard Yeargin, and Clelin Ferrell, just to name a few. At linebacker, the Tigers may be thin, but still have some talent back there such as Ben Boulware, Dorian O’Daniel, and B.J. Goodson. The backups are a bit more unproven as Clemson has lost Korrin Wiggins (named a starter on the summer depth chart) to an ACL tear, as well as Kendall Joseph for a short amount of time, and Korie Rogers due to him giving up football. This may cause some to shutter even more at this season.

Here’s what I’ll say: The defensive line is more than capable of handling their own and the linebackers are very good, as far as starters go. The Tigers may see a bit of a drop off losing a freak-athlete like Stephone Anthony to the NFL, but the linebackers will still be plenty good this season, assuming there are no more losses. They are just very skinny in depth now and will have to play a ton of snaps, which will cause the younger guys (Chad Smith, for instance) to step up and play at a high level.

More from Clemson Football

On the defensive line, however, I would argue you won’t even see a drop off in the starters. This team may not be as experienced, but they are deep and I’m not one bit concerned about the defensive line. These guys may struggle when they play the likes of Georgia Tech, due to their unconventional style of blocking, but other than that these guys will be good enough to get pressure on the quarterback.

What’s the difference, then? The secondary. Clemson’s secondary has a chance to not only be good, but to be elite. If you’ve listened to anything out of fall camp, it’s that the secondary has been locking up receivers and blanketing them day in and day out. Why is that a big deal? THESE ARE CLEMSON RECEIVERS. The Tiger secondary will not face a better passing attack than that of what the Clemson offense brings to the table and if they are being able to play with them (I know they have gotten beat and given up big plays) they will be able to play with anyone in the country.

Live Feed

College Football Trends for Week 4: Clemson, Ohio State in Rare Positions Ahead of Marquee Matchups
College Football Trends for Week 4: Clemson, Ohio State in Rare Positions Ahead of Marquee Matchups /


  • College Football Week 4 Picks Against the Spread for Every Top 25 GameBetsided
  • ACC Power Rankings: Can #4 FSU overthrow Clemson at Death Valley East?Saturday Blitz
  • Florida State vs. Clemson Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 4Betsided
  • NIL news: Will Shipley gets appropriately named Chipotle deal FanSided
  • College Football National Championship Odds Following Week 3: Georgia Survives ScareBetsided
  • So, what are my thoughts on the Clemson Tiger defense? Supposing we get through the rest of the season with no more injuries at linebacker and everyone continues to put in work, this defense is shaping up to be a top-20 to, possibly, top-10 defense. So, why don’t we need to worry?

    The game has changed. This is why we don’t need to worry. Clemson has all the intangibles to be an elite team in the modern era of college football. What are those you ask?

    1. Elite quarterback

    2. Elite offense

    3. Solid defense

    4. Strong coach.

    If you have these things, you have a chance to be a Playoff Contender. Back in the 80’s, you needed a top-10 defense to contend with the best, but now if you have a top-10 offense and top-25 defense, you are among the elite. There are exceptions to the rule (Alabama, for instance), but the game is changing and Clemson is changing along with it. No, the defense will not be the number one defense in the nation, but we don’t need them to be. All we need them to be is solid and let the offense take care of the rest. The defense is in great hands, talent-wise and coaching-wise, and there is no reason to think that Clemson will be going anywhere other than up anytime soon.

    Next: Clemson Football: What are Realistic Expectations for the 2015 season?