By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Clemson led the country in defense last year, largely because of an experienced front line with a four-man group that started a combined 114 games the past four seasons.
Now, they have all moved on, leaving the Tigers coaches to send in the next wave of players looking to maintain the team’s status as the top-ranked defense in the nation.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney believes there won’t be a drop off along the line, even without first-round NFL draft pick Vic Beasley who set the school’s record with 33 sacks. Swinney said Clemson has steadily built experience in its backups the past few seasons _ a well that will be tapped into this fall.
It is in this year’s second- and third-teammers that have defensive coaches concerned going forward.