Entering the season, Clemson was searching for a cornerback to play consistently well opposite All-ACC performer Cordrea Tankersley.
The Tigers found three.
Ryan Carter, Marcus Edmond and Mark Fields stepped up and turned a question mark into a strength for a Clemson defense that ranks ninth in the country in total defense, despite having to replace three of its four starters from last year’s secondary.
“We’ve been really pleased. It’s been better than we would have hoped,” Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “Between all of those guys, we’ve had a really good output and good execution by committee there.”
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Carter has started 11 games, Edmond has started three and Fields has made one start, but all three have made big plays during the season.
Each has an interception, with Carter’s coming against Syracuse, Fields’ against Boston College and Edmond’s against N.C. State.
Edmond’s pick came in overtime and sealed the win over the Wolfpack a couple of weeks after he made the game-saving tackle against Louisville.
Venables said all three deserve playing time, and how much they get depends on how they perform in practice during the week.
“Think about Marcus Edmond and some of the big plays he’s made this year. Mark Fields and his growth and development has just been terrific. And then Ryan Carter, he’s little in stature, but he plays so big and can do so many different things for you,” Venables said. “We really trust all of those guys.”
Carter, who’s tied for second on the team with seven pass breakups, said the group has performed how it expected to. The three knew there were those doubting them, but were determined to prove the naysayers wrong.
“We knew it was a big question mark at the beginning of the season, but we always knew if we kept working on our technique and kept working in practice we would be just fine because we go against the best receivers in the country in practice every day,” he said.
Carter added the three bring out the best in each other because they know they have to perform in order to get playing time.
“I enjoy it because we’re always competing,” he said. “Of course, everybody wants to be on the field all the time and stuff, but we don’t bicker about who gets snaps and stuff. We just enjoy it.”
Who: Clemson (12-1) vs. Ohio State (11-1)
When: 7 p.m., Saturday
Where: Glendale, Ariz.
Line: OSU by 3