Dabo Swinney explains why he has two defensive line coaches

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Saturday January 07, 2017


Dan Brooks -- Photo credit: DaboSwinney.com

Clemson had to replace most of its front seven after last season, but the Tigers are back in the national title game with a strong front again. Dabo Swinney credits part of that to having two defensive line coaches.

Dan Brooks coaches the defensive tackles, and Marion Hobby coaches the defensive ends. Clemson was No. 3 nationally in tackles for loss this year. Brooks was named the 2016 AFCA assistant coach of the year, and defensive coordinator Brent Venables won the Broyles award.

“That's one of the reasons I have two D-line coaches, because I've always put such a great emphasis on that position,” Swinney said Saturday. “I think it's too much for one guy, the details, the techniques, the amount of information that you have to prepare for.

“It's not like everybody is running up and lining up in I-right and I-left anymore. There's so much teaching that has to go on at D-end and D-tackle, and Dan and Marion have just done an unbelievable job, and their track record speaks for itself.”

Different staffs spread out different duties, but the front is so important to Swinney that he puts two coaches there. Swinney pointed to Vic Beasley, now in the NFL, and all the other players Brooks and Hobby have produced. Since 2009, 12 Clemson defensive linemen have been drafted. 

“Vic never played a snap of D-line ever until his junior year. He was a running back, and this kid just made 1st-team All Pro and led the led the NFL in sacks,” Swinney said. “And that's a credit to the development he got with Marion while he was at Clemson. He was the 8th pick in the draft. Kevin Dodd was a prep school guy that nobody recruited, was a 2nd-rounder last year.

“We've got lots of guys like that, Shaq Lawson, Marion, and then you look at Dan Brooks and you've got guys like Grady Jarrett, who we beat Buffalo to recruit, who's starting and having a heck of a year for the Falcons, starting D-tackle, second-year player. You look all over the league and you look at the guys that have been produced. You look what he's done with Dexter Lawrence this year, true freshman, coaching those guys up.

They're just great people. We have a great chemistry with our defensive staff, but it all starts up front. There's no doubt about it. The teaching, the attention to details, the toughness that we've developed at that position has given us a chance to be a winner.”

They’ll face an Alabama offense that is No. 8 in rushing, but No. 108 in TFLS allowed, at 7.2 per game. The Tide and Tigers kick off from Tampa at 8 p.m. ET on Monday.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.