Steele promises old school approach to tackling problems


by - Senior Writer -
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Steele said during Tuesday’s session with the media that the Tigers missed 16 tackles for a total of 145 yards against the Wofford Terriers last week.

CLEMSON – Clemson defenders may get a lesson in the “old way” this week during practice as they prepare for Saturday’s contest against defending national champion Auburn.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said during Tuesday’s session with the media that the Tigers missed 16 tackles for a total of 145 yards against the Wofford Terriers last week, and promised that changes were coming in the aftermath.

When pressed about the changes, Steele said people would find out Saturday.

“When you give up that, something is going to change,” Steele said. “When you are extremely irritated about something, you had better keep your mouth shut. But we will go to work. And I'm old enough to know and old school enough to know, okay, we do it a certain way and it doesn't work. I know the old way works."

Steele recounted a story from his time as a linebacker at Tennessee, where he played for “old school” coach Johnny Majors. Steele said that during one intense practice session, he missed a tackle on a screen pass and drew the ire of his head coach.

“He himself [Majors] kept me after practice, and I tackled offensive linemen for 38 tackles,” Steele said. “The next time I had an opportunity to make a tackle, I had a little more sense of urgency to apply the technique properly. The head coach sat on a dummy and watched. I was so angry I don’t remember how I felt.”

Steele said that better tackling comes through “repetition, repetition and repetition” with an eye towards keeping players healthy.

“You can’t go too far, like you did back then,” Steele said. "If I went out there today and hurt Rashard HallRashard Hall
RS Jr. Safety
#31 6-2, 200
St. Augustine, FL

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, Andre BranchAndre Branch
RS Sr. Defensive End
#40 6-5, 260
Richmond, VA

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, Brandon ThompsonBrandon Thompson
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#98 6-2, 310
Thomasville, GA

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and Quandon ChristianQuandon Christian
RS So. Linebacker
#34 6-3, 215
Lake View, SC

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doing live tackling drills and they couldn't play Saturday, we'd have an issue.”

However, he said he knows how to fix it, and looked at his watch when he said “We had better get it fixed, in what, five days? And we will.”

He asked how he knew it would be fixed, and he had a simple answer.

"I’ve had a lot of things where I've looked out there and said, 'How are we going to fix this?' But, you know what? It'd be like the chief mechanic in Detroit at the Ford Motor Company, you asking him, ‘Do you know how to change oil?’ You give him one of those computer questions on something that's going wrong underneath the hood with that new computer stuff, he may need some technicians to help him. Changing oil, I bet he can get done."


He said that if a player has reached this level of football, the player knows how to tackle.

“If you play football for Clemson University, you know how to tackle,” he said. “But it’s like that golfer who goes out and makes every putt, and then all of a sudden he misses one and his confidence gets shaken. It's not a technique issue. It's not something we don't coach. We've got tackling drills every day. We work on it every day. It's just helping them get better at what they do and regain their confidence in their tackling."

*Steele said freshman safety Robert SmithRobert Smith
Fr. Defensive Back
#27 5-11, 195
St. George, SC

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acquitted himself well in his first start Saturday.

“He is a smart guy, and he is learning how to play with his eyes,” Steele said. “He has really good ability, and he has all of the traits to be a good player. In fact, he has the potential to be a really good player.”

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