Kevin Steele says familiarity with Clemson not a factor
|Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 8:29 AM- -|
Not much has changed with Kevin Steele.
Clemson’s former defensive coordinator has had three stops since being let go by head coach Dabo Swinney following the 2011 season, but his press conferences sound the same as they did while he was with the Clemson staff – moments of honesty and clarity followed by bouts of vitriol and surliness followed by incredulity that the media could be so dumb.
Steele served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the LSU during the 2015 season. He went to Baton Rouge from Alabama, where he spent the 2014 season coaching the Crimson Tide linebackers and acting as a special assistant to head coach Nick Saban. In 2013, he served as Alabama's director of player personnel.
Steele served as defensive coordinator at Alabama in 2007 and then held the same position at Clemson for three years from 2009-2011. While at Clemson, the Tigers won the 2011 ACC title, their first since 1991. Steele's 2010 Clemson defense led the ACC and ranked No. 13 nationally in points allowed, surrendering 18.8 points per game.
He was hired by Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn at the end of last season, and Steele met with the media Tuesday to discuss his team’s preparations for No. 2 Clemson, which travels to Jordan-Hare Stadium for an opening night matchup under the lights.
He said Auburn has spent part of the recent week working on Clemson and part of the week working on future opponents.
“Not a lot has changed in terms of what we're trying to accomplish and where we're at,” Steele said during a press conference. “It's obviously not game week, so we've come off a week of where we've had some preparation for our next opponent but also realizing our offense does that anyway. We also went back to front and did some work on teams that run a different offense. So we've been working on that pretty heavily and also on our first opponent.”
The last time Clemson visited Auburn, Steele was on the opposing sideline and he was asked if his familiarity with Clemson and Swinney would be an advantage for Auburn.
“Not really. That was a long time ago. All of the players are gone, so not really,” he said. “But I’ve been around a long time, and you could say that about every team on our schedule.”
He then said there is nothing about Clemson’s last visit that matters this time around.
“I was there. But that was so long ago,” he said. “We are dealing with 18 to 22-year-old men, and I guarantee you they don't remember that. But I don't think that's a story because I really don't have anything to say about it. That's for another time.”
Steele’s main objective will be stopping Heisman Trophy candidate and All-American Deshaun Watson, but he said his team won’t come out on top if they focus on one player.
“Obviously, he's a great player but it's about doing what we are supposed to do,” Steele said. “Covering the man you are supposed to cover. Tackle when you get the opportunity to tackle. If you go out there and try to play one guy that's not going to be very effective. Just do your job. Now if your number is called and that's in your gap, then you better get the job done. He's pretty effective.”
Steele said his main goal has been improving his team and not worrying about the opponent.
"We have improved, and we’ve really worked on the physicality of things, and we’re starting to buy into that and the philosophy of who we are," Steele said. "We’ve accentuated our work in terms of turnovers, because for those kind of things, physical guys dominate their opponent, their matchup, control their gap, tackle the football and create turnovers. That’s obviously key to it. It’s more about us than anyone we’ll play."