Why has Clemson’s defense had success vs. ACC offenses?
Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick stood to benefit as much as any player on Clemson’s defense from getting plenty of work during preseason camp.
The sophomore, who switched from receiver to defensive back during the spring, has yet to play cornerback in a college game, but will be counted on to play well this season as the Tigers try to defend their national title.
Unfortunately for Clemson, Kendrick spent most of fall camp on the sideline jogging in a yellow jersey instead of out on the field getting reps due to a hamstring injury. He is back now and playing catch up before Clemson opens the season next Thursday against Georgia Tech.
“We wish he would’ve gotten all the work. There’s no doubt about that,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said Thursday. “I think he would definitely be further along had he been out there every day the whole camp. But he’s healthy. We were very cautious with bringing him back. So he’s been out there since the weekend. He’ll have a good couple of weeks under his belt.”
Kendrick exited the spring as the starter at cornerback opposite A.J. Terrell, and despite missing a couple of weeks with an injury during fall camp, he still has his starting job.
With Terrell being a preseason All-ACC selection and one of the best cornerbacks in the country, teams will likely throw at the inexperienced Kendrick early and often.
“I wish he’d have had a little more live work (during fall camp), but it is what it is,” Swinney said. “He’ll get his opportunity next Thursday. I’m sure he’ll be one they’re going after early.”
While Kendrick will start for the Tigers, Clemson has plenty of options at cornerback behind him. True freshmen Sheridan Jones and Andrew Booth and sophomores Mario Goodrich and LeAnthony Williams will also play, according to Swinney.
And just because Kendrick starts Game 1, it doesn’t mean he will start Game 2 or throughout the season.
“Sheridan, I’m pleased with him. Mario, LeAnthony, those guys have all had great camps and deserve to play,” Swinney said. “They’re gonna give us some really, really good quality depth at that position. Booth, the same thing. Booth’s coming. So excited about all of those guys.”
Whoever is in the game opposite Terrell should expect to get plenty of passes thrown their way.
“They’re Georgia Tech, so they’re smart down there. That’s what I’d do. Wouldn’t you? That No. 8 (Terrell) is pretty good over there. I mean I guess you’ve got to test the water, but I’m going at whoever’s over there,” Swinney said. “I’m not real smart, but that’s probably what I’m gonna do. So those guys better be ready.”