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The Clemson Tigers, despite a losing season, still had a top 25 defense, and continued to put their offense in position multiple times to win. But the offense was ineffective, and the defense was sometimes on the bad side of a loss, even though they were one of the few bright spots on a losing team.
But, with a fixed offense, the Tigers now have a chance to have balance on both sides of the ball.
The defensive line has been Clemson's best attribute on its defense for many years, and must now continue its solid production after the losses of defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins and defensive end Daquan Bowers. With their departures, the Tigers are left with an interesting mix of fresh, young talent.
With Andre Branch and Mallicah Goodman filling out the end spots, and Brandon Thompson and Rennie Moore filling out the defensive tackle position, depth remains a big question, especially at defensive tackle, where Jenkins made the pass-rush effective by demanding consistent double-teams on the inside.
In fall camp, young names like sophomore Tyler Shatley, along with incoming freshman Kevin Dodd, Grady Jarrett, Deshawn Williams and others, will have something to prove, as Kevin Steele's defense frequietly likes to rotate its defense linemen throughout a game.
At linebacker, junior Corcico Hawkins continues to man the middle linebacker position, while sophomore Quandon Christian mans the SAM position. Now, with the departure of Brandon Mays, the WILL position is up for grabs. In the spring, sophomore Justin Parker make huge strides and had an outstanding spring, while Johnathan Willard continues to strive for a full starting position. And meanwhile, three highly touted linebackers in Stephone Anthony, Tony Steward and Lateek Townsend are on their way, with Anthony a likely candidate for a starting spot.
The linebackers have had a solid spring performance and look to become more of an asset for Clemson's front seven this time around.
The back seven remain strong, led by junior free safety Rashard Hall, and fellow junior Jonathan Meeks will step into a full-time starting role with the departure of Deandre McDaniel. Junior Xavier Brewer will man one of the corner positions, while senior Coty Sensabaugh competes with the likes of younger teammates Bashaud Breeland, Darius Robinson and Martin Jenkins for the starting outside position opposite Brewer.