Cornerback quandary

Darius Robinson

CLEMSON - Injuries have plagued Clemson's cornerbacks. Martin Jenkins was the first casualty. Then, Darius Robinson and Bashaud Breeland went down.

Those injuries contributed to the defense's struggles. Clemson is 62nd in the country in pass efficiency and 81st against the pass.

The Tigers' season began short-handed. Before the end of August, Clemson's coaches planned for 2012 to be a redshirt year for Jenkins, who had been dealing with a "sports hernia-like" injury.

Halfway through the season, the cornerback group took another pair of hits when Robinson and Breeland both went down against Virginia Tech.

Robinson's season was called to a close with a fractured ankle.

Breeland missed the following the Wake Forest trip but played in each of the next three games. After logging just five snaps against N.C. State, his season was shutdown.

All three will be out for the Chick-fil-A Bowl versus LSU.

"It's been a thin year in that secondary, that's for sure," Dabo Swinney said. "Martin Jenkins, Darius Robinson being out for as long as he's been out. Breeland has been out for quite a while, but we'll get them all healthy. We'll get them all back."

Ever the optimist, Swinney said there's bright-side.

"The positive is we've gotten to really get a lot of experience for Garry [Peters] and Cortez [Davis]," he said.

Breeland's injury is similar to the one that sidelined Jenkins.

"Jenkins did his in high school. He had that problem in high school," Swinney said. "He'd kind of battle through it, get a little bit better, [and] then battle through it. He just never really was 100 percent. That's why we finally just said, ‘You know what? Let's just put him on the shelf and get it fixed, get him well.'"

Swinney added that Jenkins has done well in his recovery.

"He's flying around out there and practicing great. It's good to see him back out on the field."

Robinson continues to rehab.

"He's not far away from that. In, probably, another couple of weeks or so, he would probably be able to get back out there and start working," Swinney said.

The cornerback trio isn't the only loss the Clemson defensive backfield has suffered this season. Earlier this month, Charlie Harbison left for the same job at Auburn.

Though Swinney couldn't speak to the hire of former N.C. State secondary coach Mike Reed, he acknowledged last Friday that a move has been made.

"The only thing I can tell y'all is I'm excited about the direction we're going to go in," Swinney said. "There's a process that you have to honor and respect, from a university standpoint, before I can make any comments or official hires, anything like that."

Swinney isn't sure of the exact date the hire will become official, but he did say it will happen before the Clemson coaches are back on the road recruiting.

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