CLEMSON -- The bad news for Clemson is linebacker Brandon Maye was officially ruled out Thursday for the Presbyterian game, though Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said he'll be "shocked" if Maye is not ready to play next weekend at Auburn.

The good news is Maye's absence following minor knee surgery gives redshirt sophomore Tig Willard another chance after a poor opening performance against North Texas. Willard might need a good performance to keep his starting position at weakside linebacker, where he rotated with Maye this summer.

"He did not play as well Saturday as he's practiced," Swinney said. "I think a lot of it is he hadn't really been there before, that many reps. Hopefully, he'll be a little more at ease (against the Blue Hose).

"It could be a blessing."

Part of Clemson's defensive struggles in the opening game can be traced to linebacker.

Willard and middle linebacker Corico Hawkins were making their first and second career starts, respectively, and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said there were some non-verbal communication issues among other errors.

Improving the run defense is on the top of Clemson's priority list.

Clemson allowed 193 rushing yards to North Texas last week, and allowed at least 162 rushing yards in four of its five losses last season. Presbyterian did gain 362 total yards against Wake Forest last week.

Joining Maye on the injury report are defensive tackles Miguel Chavis (ankle) who is probable, and Jarvis Jenkins (MCL sprain) who is questionable. Freshman offensive lineman Kalon Davis has been ruled out for Saturday's game.

Even with the injuries to interior defensive linemen, Swinney said it will not force the staff to burn any redshirts against Presbyterian.

Ready for a breakout?

Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers was credited with another sack in the official stats released this week, giving the junior two for the North Texas game in addition to a game-high eight tackles. Entering the season, Bowers had four career sacks in 955 career snaps.

The next great American novelist

Clemson punter Dawson Zimmerman, the only English major on the roster, has written a couple shorts stories, including one about a pogonophile -- one who loves or studies beards.

Dawson might be the most creative -- and perhaps eccentric -- college football player in America. Dawson is also part of a fledgling two-man band, The Rainbow Bandits.

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