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Thursday, May 7, 2009
Clemson spring wrap-up

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Clemson Tigers
2008 overall record: 7-6

2008 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: Offense: 7, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

WR Jacoby Ford, RB C.J. Spiller, OG Thomas Austin, CB Crezdon Butler, CB Chris Chancellor, DE Ricky Sapp, LB Kavell Conner

Key losses

WR Aaron Kelly, QB Cullen Harper, RB James Davis, WR Tyler Grisham, S Michael Hamlin, S Chris Clemons, PK Mark Buchholz, P Jimmy Maners, NG Darell Scott

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: James Davis (791 yards)
Passing: Cullen Harper (2,601 yards)
Receiving: Aaron Kelly (722 yards)
Tackles: LB Kavell Conner* (125)
Sacks: LB Brandon Maye*, DT Jarvis Jenkins*, DE Ricky Sapp* and DT Rashaad Jackson (2 each)
Interceptions: Michael Hamlin (6)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule

Sept. 5 Middle Tennessee
Sept. 10 at Georgia Tech
Sept. 19 Boston College
Sept. 26 Central Michigan
Oct. 3 at Maryland
Oct. 10 OPEN
Oct. 17 Wake Forest
Oct. 24 at Miami
Oct. 31 Coastal Carolina
Nov. 7 Florida State
Nov. 14 at NC State
Nov. 21 Virginia
Nov. 28 at South Carolina

1. Starting QB: Kyle Parker has proved to be a remarkable athlete in his first spring competing for the starting quarterback job. He's proved capable of leading both the Tigers' offense on the football field and the baseball field. He was the better of the two quarterbacks. That doesn't mean he'll be the starter, but it does give Dabo Swinney confidence in the option.

2. A new 'D': First-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was a great hire, and Clemson's defense will be more aggressive. It hasn't been broken the last four years under Vic Koenning, but Steele will look to sack the quarterback more, and play more man coverage in the secondary, which Butler and Chancellor like.

3. A better O-line: The offensive line will be much better. Clemson ran the ball well this spring without Spiller, who, along with Jacoby Ford was also running track and not allowed to be tackled this spring for fear of getting them hurt. Thomas Austin is a leader and former center who will play guard and Mason Cloy seems comfortable now at center.

Fall questions

1. No. 2 receiver: There's no clear-cut receiver for the No. 2 spot behind Ford, who wasn't around much this spring because of track. There were numerous dropped balls early in the spring, but there was also some improvement. Xavier Dye has the potential to step in and was Korn's teammate for half a year. Redshirt freshmen Brandon Ford and Jaron Brown are also candidates.

2. Parker vs. Korn: Swinney is not being coy when he says Kyle Parker and Willy Korn are "co-No. 1s" going into August camp. The one thing that can't be accurately evaluated in the spring is how well the quarterbacks can run, which is something they'll have to do more in this system. But the quarterbacks can't be tackled in the scrimmages. Korn is the better runner, but Parker was the better quarterback this spring.

3. Safety: The Tigers are still looking to name two starting safeties. DeAndre McDaniel was moved from linebacker to safety, and hasn't played it before. Sadat Chambers, who had 21 tackles on second-string last year, will continue to compete with Carlton Lewis and Rashard Hall this summer.