Steele knows Hokies present challenge in the run game

by - Senior Writer -
Steele said Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony will probably see more action this week.

CLEMSON – A Clemson defense that has had its hands full through the first four weeks of the season faces another stiff challenge this Saturday night when the Tigers travel to Blacksburg to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Virginia Tech is 4-0, and much like they have in seasons past, rely heavily on their running game to fuel the offense. David Wilson already has 516 yards on the ground, and the Hokies are averaging 211.75 yards per game on the ground.

"Virginia Tech, traditionally, is one of the better running teams in this part of the country," Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said Tuesday. "When you say Alabama, LSU, and Virginia Tech - you probably just named three of the better traditional running, non-option running teams, year in and year out, in the country. We've got our hands full, in that regard."

Leading the way for the Hokies is quarterback Logan Thomas.

"Their quarterback is capable. He can run,” Steele said. “He's big and strong. But they're not lining up and running him, six, eight or nine times every game in that stretch-read stuff. Will we see it? Probably. Will they keep running it? We'll see."

Steele said his defense is still not close to where he needs for it to be, or where it has been the past few years.

"That's a tall order there because there have been some good ones,” he said. “We're not anywhere close because the expectation is so high. I said two weeks ago we were not very good at that point in time. Now, we have improved a great deal. But we're still seeing the same thing - 55 very productive football plays and five or six plays that skew the whole thing either by double moves or a great throw or someone getting beat deep or chunk plays. This past game there weren't any chunk run plays, but we still had pass plays that gave them big chunks. If we can eliminate chunk plays, we can be closer. But we're not there yet, by any stretch of the imagination. Our standard is pretty high. Expectations are pretty high. The object is still the same - keep them out of the end zone."

Steele said that the chunk plays can't be blamed entirely on the young players.

“It’s a lot of things,” he said. “Sometimes it's technique. Sometimes we have to coach them better. Sometimes it's a great throw. Sometimes it's a lack of pass rush. One of those factors is that if you get multiple wideouts on the field, we have two rookie corners out there. But they're growing up. They've been baptized on offense. They can't say they're rookies anymore. And that group we played Saturday is very talented and very well-coached. The one we played before, they've scored a lot of points, too. So our guys have seen a lot of talented layers."

Other notes from Kevin Steele

On Tony StewardTony Steward
Fr. Linebacker
#7 6-1, 245
Hastings, FL

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‘s health and Steward Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
Fr. Linebacker
#12 6-3, 235
Polkton, NC

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playing zero and one snap, respectively, this past week

"He's [Steward] really good. And I'm upset with myself a little because I should have played Tony and Stephone more last week. At the start of a series a couple of times , Tony went out, but their personnel grouping dictated that we had to be in multiple defensive backs, so he had to come off. He's practicing very well and probably the last two weeks he's hit his groove. Stephone - that’s on me. He should have played more this past week, because he does play a good bit on nickel and dime."

On the play of the defensive line

"It's what we thought it would be. Rennie [Moore] has given us good snaps; [Brandon] Thompson has given us good snaps and the same with Andre [Branch] and Malliciah [Goodman]. But what if one of those guys had gotten hurt? I'm not sure we're ready for one of those guys to not be ready to play. But we've made progress with some of the younger guys."

On Rashard HallRashard Hall
Gr. Safety
#31 6-1, 210
St. Augustine, FL

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’s knee

“He's good. He doesn't miss any practice reps. He's good. I think he's back in his normal mode. And he missed some practice time and missed a game and I think that might have had something to do with it."

On Quandon ChristianQuandon Christian
RS So. Linebacker
#34 6-2, 220
Lake View, SC

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in pass coverage

"He's progressed nicely, but Tig [Willard] is actually getting more reps than Quandon in nickel situations. There's good competition going on there. Tig is one of those guys - it's strange because he's one of the unsung heroes and you never hear his name mentioned - but he just does his job. They don't run his gap because he's in his gap. He just quietly goes about his business. He doesn't get attacked a lot because he does his job. He's such a tough guy, too, mentally and physically."

On Hokie running back David Wilson

"You better lace your shoes up. Because if you don't, you'll look down and you won't have any shoes on. He'll bring you out of your shoes. He's that good a runner."

On running ability of Logan Thomas

"It depends on what game you watch. If you watch the East Carolina game, you saw four, five or six plays where it was Cam Newton-type run plays. Then, you watch the last game, and that was not a factor. It was more traditional, pro-style, give it to the tailback, play-action pass and then throw the ball from traditional, pro-style passing game.”

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