Goodman, Brown and Branch show out; Steele sees improvement

by - Senior Writer -
Malliciah Goodman forced two fumbles against PC.

CLEMSON – Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele went into Saturday’s contest against Presbyterian looking to see a little more “zip” out of his unit, an improvement in tackling and for the group’s communication to finally iron itself out.

Steele said he was pleased with all of the above.

“I think the big thing was our tackling was much better,” Steele said. “I thought we had more zip. And the communication things that we needed to get cleaned up got cleaned up.”

The 21 points given up by the Tiger defense were the most ever scored by a Blue Hose team against the Tigers, but PC went scoreless for the first 43:29 of the game, and it wasn’t until Steele began to substitute in-and-out as many players as he could that the Blue Hose began to move the ball.

“I don’t know if you noticed, but we substituted wholesale, drive-wise, but still brought the other guys back,” Steele said of the defensive rotations. “Then, we had a couple of series where we kept the starters off the field on first and second down and brought them back in on third down just to keep that focus. The thing I saw out there with the guys that play normally was we saw guys applying their technique, they did their job. That’s all you can ask of them is to do their job.

“If you got a five technique, you’ve got a five technique. When you’ve got the 'orbit’ or the ‘rocket sweep’, you force it. We had one play with the ‘Attack’ [first team], that was on me, where we had a personnel mishap and actually it was a personnel mismatch- quite frankly that call doesn’t fit that deal. I think that popped out there for about eight yards. I think the biggest thing was we saw the zip, the communication, and saw them apply their technique. They tried to play with their eyes and do their job.”

Spencer Shuey led all tacklers with seven, but Andre Branch, Kourtnei Brown and Malliciah Goodman all had good days. Branch totaled five tackles, but two of those were sacks. Brown blocked a punt and forced a fumble and had six total tackles, while Goodman forced two fumbles.

Brown said he was pleased with the effort on Saturday, especially compared to last Saturday’s game against North Texas.

“We got better mentally and physically,” Brown said. “I think we did a real good job. Guys got better today. That’s what we need to do each game, get better and better.”

BRANCH THE BANDIT:Early on in Saturday’s contest, defensive end Andre Branch stepped off of the defensive line and played the “Bandit” position, much like Ricky Sapp did last season, and Branch said playing that kind of position is why he came to Clemson.

“That’s what I came here for, that’s what I was recruited for, outside linebacker and D-end,” Branch said. “So you can pretty much just say I played bandit today.”

I didn’t see Branch line up at the bandit spot against North Texas a week ago, and he told me that it all depended on what the offense shows.

“They ran different schemes,” Branch said. “Different schemes, I play linebacker; different schemes I play defensive end. You never know what you’re going to get. It’s definitely fun- more fun to be freer. The trenches are where I play at mostly, but at the same time you feel like you are the quarterback of the defense when you’re at linebacker.”

Branch recorded a career-high two sacks and had three tackles for loss, and Steele said that having a player with Branch’s capabilities is a must in today’s game.

“Branch is really kind of that hybrid guy- people really think of him as a defensive end because they think 4-3,” Steele said. “He played today at inside backer, outside backer, defensive end. He can do a lot of things from that stand point, and he’s a big guy. You have to have speed. You have to be a disciplined guy and have good eyes.

“If you move around then you are going to see things from a different angle as opposed to lining up on the end of line of scrimmage and see things just from left to right, every time inside out or outside in. Whereas, he’s going to be on multiple lines and he’s going to see things from a lot of different angles. He plays good with his eyes.”

And how valuable is it to have a guy that can play in a 3-4 or 4-3?

“You can’t do it if you don’t. You’ve got to go do something else if you don’t have that hybrid guy.”

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