After the big win over Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl, many Clemson football fans were eager to find out what Clemson stars were going to stay another year in Death Valley. One of the bigger names was defensive end Corey Crawford. Crawford announced on January 8th that he was going to be a Tiger for one more year and the Clemson nation was ecstatic knowing they would have Crawford for the big opener in Athens, Georgia on August 31.
This past Tuesday, Dabo Swinney announced that offensive linemen David Beasley and Shaq Anthony, defensive back Garry Peters, and defensive end Corey Crawford will miss the 2014 season opener against the SEC powerhouse Georgia Bulldogs. The reason? The always-ambiguous violation of team rules.
After announcing that these four will miss the opener, Swinney said in a statement released by the school, “A huge part of our program is teaching accountability, responsibility and that there are consequences for your actions. These are four good young men, but they broke a team rule and as a result, they will each miss a game. I am hopeful that they will learn and grow from this and have a great 2014 season on and off the field.”
Corey Crawford is perhaps the biggest loss of the bunch. Swinney, going into his seventh year as head football coach at Clemson, prides himself as a top recruiter in the country. The loss of these four players will give the nation a chance to see Dabo’s recruiting in action, as they will reach down into their depth chart to fill in for the loss of Crawford’s defensive playmaking abilities. In 2013, Crawford finished sixth on the team in total tackles (144), third in tackles for loss (10.5), and fifth in sacks (2.5). In last season’s opener against Georgia in Death Valley, Crawford accounted for two tackles, one sack, and one interception late in the second quarter. Crawford backed up into coverage and intercepted Aaron Murray, which showed his versatility as a defensive end. The Tigers won that game 38-35.
Aaron Murray, who has the most passing yards in SEC history, graduated after a great career at Georgia. Murray’s replacement, Hutson Mason, has to be relieved that number 93 for the Tigers won’t be trying to take him down in his first time being the unquestioned starter for the bulldogs. The rising senior has sat behind Aaron Murray for four years before stepping in when Aaron Murray tore his ACL late last season.
The Tigers will definitely be at a disadvantage on August 31 without Corey Crawford. Defensive lineman Vic Beasley will have to step up as well as the rest of the front four.
“A few years ago, we were awful on defense. We didn’t have any players and hadn’t recruited anybody, had awful defensive linemen and all that stuff,” Swinney said March 4th at a press conference “Now those same guys are all seniors and we’re the greatest thing ever. That’s just the way it goes. I don’t get caught up in all that. It just comes in cycles. You have everybody back on one side and holes in the next. That’s football. It makes it fun trying to put it all together, but I am excited about our defense, that’s for sure.”
Clemson fans should be excited too.