Steele says Gamecocks to provide stern test

by - Senior Writer -
A key for the Tiger defense on Saturday could be the play of defensive end Da’Quan Bowers.

AUDIO: Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele (WMA Format)

CLEMSON – Kevin Steele made sure that the media assembled around his table on Tuesday in the WestZone knew that his defense – especially the starters – had a good week last week against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

And that this week’s challenge is an entirely different animal.

"A recap of last week, it's the same as we told you after the game,” Steele said. “We felt like the guys went up there and did what we asked them to do. When the starters came off the field, they had 97 yards and no points. I'm a little frustrated with the younger guys not playing to our standard, which they've bought into. They just have to understand what our standard is.”

This Saturday, the Tigers host the South Carolina Gamecocks, who have a few more weapons at their disposal than the Demon Deacons.

“As far as this week goes, we have our hands full. What we've done in the past is not important,” Steele said. “It's what we do Saturday that matters, because that's the next game. This team we're playing is very well-coached. They've got all the weapons and very good core wideouts with one exceptional player [Alshon Jeffery] who has a lot of catches and a lot of big plays. I don't need to say anything about their running back [Marcus Lattimore]. If you don't know who he is, you probably don't need to be around this table.

“Their QB [Stephen Garcia] is playing at a very high level. What goes unsaid a lot is the offensive line and what they've been able to do. It's not always the same guys. But they've been very effective and efficient. You don't throw it as well as they're throwing it or running it as well unless you're getting something done up front. And they've done it against some pretty good defenses. We've got our hands full."

Steele said that Garcia’s ability to scramble once the protection breaks down adds another dimension to the offense.

"He's effective, but he's always been effective with his feet,” Steele said. “You see him in every game run that QB run. It seems like it's 12-to-14 yards two or three times a game, then he'll pull it down and effectively scramble for a couple of first downs a game in passing situations. But we've seen that before. Russell Wilson at NCSU is pretty good at that too."

Lattimore’s vision is what has helped the freshman have an outstanding initial season, according to Steele.

“After all these years, I was on the same team with Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas and Nebraska with Ahmad Green and Lawrence Phillips and Alabama with [Mark] Ingram and Leon Washington at Florida State and Greg Jones at Florida State. I've been fortunate to be around many who are special. They're all different. But the bottom line is he's really got exceptional vision. His vision is very good. He feels where that crease is. If you're not in your gap and you're not controlling your gap, he finds it."

A key for the Tiger defense on Saturday could be the play of defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, who is having a superlative junior season, and Steele said that Bowers’ success is due to his finally understanding his role.
“The thing that Da'Quan has done very well is buying into the system and doing his job, not freelancing and not trying to make plays,” he said. “He does his job and the plays come to him. I think it proves what we've tried to teach him is if the group has success, the individual honors will come. This group has had some success over the last couple of weeks, so you start seeing the individual honors happening. The plays are coming to him. Obviously there are times when he makes plays and it's like, 'Wow.' "

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