Steele adds new wrinkles to Clemson defense


by - Senior Writer -
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Steele is looking for new ways to combat the rise of the spread offense.

SUNSET, S.C. – Kevin Steele would remind you of the one kid in school who always looked like he was up to something, and you had to watch him every second lest you get caught in the crossfire.

As it turns out, Steele has been up to something this off-season.

Steele told the media on Tuesday at Dabo Swinney’s media golf outing that he has looked for new ways to combat the rise of the spread offense while also looking for new wrinkles that will put his players in the best position to succeed, and he thinks he has done that.

He and his staff pored over NFL game tapes, and paid particular attention to the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, who play similar schemes. He also said he took a look at some of the nation’s best college defense, including TCU, in order to have his defense ready for the first part of the season when the Clemson offense may still be ironing out a few wrinkles of its own.

“The main objective is we’ve got to be really strong on defense in this league, and the early part of the season we’ve got to set a tone that grows and get better every game,” Steele said. "We've tweaked some things in that we can get those tweaks done and give you different looks without changing the personnel.

“We've done a lot of offseason study on that and we've got that thing worked out where it's simple but it's complex in terms of giving you a lot of different looks. We've been able to still keep the complexity of what we've got, but do it without substituting."

One of the biggest things he wanted to accomplish was getting better against the rush despite allowing just 3.9 yards per carry in a season in which his defense finished 13th in the nation in scoring defense and 19th in total defense.


“We did a lot of good things last year,” he said. “Our scoring defense was good. But our rush per carry average was 3.9, and our goal in order to be in the top 10 is 3.3 so we are a little bit off in that. That puts us at 27th in the country, and that’s not good enough. We have to be better than that.

“We also have to be able to generate a pass rush and we have some new things on the table scheme-wise. “We’ve been looking at a lot of NFL tape, including the Super Bowl, and looking at some other teams across the country that do very well against the spread, with TCU being one of them.”

He said he believes that with the depth and talent he will finally have with this year’s defense, he can pull a few surprises of his own.

“We’ve got some new things on the table in terms of scheme-wise for the spread teams we’ll face,” he said. “So we’ve got some scheme things we’re tweaking, but the bottom line is we’ve got to keep them out of the end zone. No excuses. That’s it.”

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