Steele talks Boston College, Montel Harris and the linebackers


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Steele talks with linebacker Corico Hawkins

Kevin Steele (WMA Format)


CLEMSON – Each week brings a different test for the Clemson defense, and Homecoming week is no different as defensive coordinator Kevin Steele prepares his squad for Boston College and running back Montel Harris.

Steele’s defense turned in perhaps its best effort of the season in last week’s 23-3 victory at Virginia Tech, but Steele said that he only has to turn on the film of last year’s game at Boston College in order to bring his defense down to earth.

In that 16-13 Boston College win, Harris carried 37 times for 143 yards, seemingly owning a first half in which he drug Clemson defenders for two or three extra yards on every play.

Steele said he expects the same kind of effort from Harris this season, who has rushed 31 times for 135 yards in two games after returning from an early-season injury.

“Last season, he had 37 carries for 143 yards, and that is 4.4 yards per carry, which is one yard per carry too much,” Steele said. “He missed the first three games this year, but it appears that he is now hitting his stride. We don’t need that to happen Saturday. He is talented, has good vision and he is a tough guy. He finds a crease.”

Steele said he was pleased with how his defense is getting better every week, but there are still many things to improve on.

"I think we're getting better at being relentless," Steele said. "The film didn't show relentless domination every play. We've got a ton of corrections. We've still got some guys that are trying to do a little too much and not play gap responsibility every snap. It was minimal last week, but we still have that. But, like I said last week, statistically, the number one stat is keeping them out of the end zone. We did that for the first-time this year. Yeah, it was the best this year. Is it the best we can be? It's not even close."

He said the defense has been getting better at forgetting about bad plays.

"We're starting to mature a little bit more, and be accountable and be responsible, and understand that one play does not make the game," Steele said. "Play the next play. We're getting a little bit better at playing the next play."

Freshmen linebackers were also a big topic Tuesday afternoon, especially after Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
Fr. Linebacker
#12 6-3, 235
Polkton, NC

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played 29 snaps against the Hokies while Lateek TownsendLateek Townsend
Fr. Linebacker
#20 6-2, 215
Bennettsville, SC

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– who did not play in the first four games – had his redshirt removed and also played Saturday.


Steele said that Anthony continues to impress, and that is one of the reasons his snaps counts went up this week. Against FSU, starting MIKE linebacker Corico HawkinsCorico Hawkins
Jr. Linebacker
#42 5-11, 230
Milledgeville, GA

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played 55 snaps to just one for Anthony, but it was down to 42 for Hawkins and up to 29 for Anthony at Virginia Tech.

“We knew when we were recruiting both him [Anthony] and Tony [Steward] what we were getting,” Steele said. “Now, Tony has been slowed a little bit by the knee, and he plays in our regular {defense] more. Of course, Stephone plays in both the nickel and dime package, and his rotation has gotten better, better, better. He has the mechanics down, he is a good tackler, he has speed and he is a smart guy.”
Steele said Clemson fans should expect to see Anthony as much or even more this week.

“He earned what he got [last week], and now he has earned some more,” he said.

He said that the decision to make Townsend a part of the rotation was one he agreed with.

“You have heard me say this before, that I kind of lean the other way in that when you are trying to get people ready to play down the road, it is better to expose them to game-planning every week, regardless of how many snaps they get,” he said. “I think with his speed and his tackling ability, which is big in special teams. I was talking to Danny [Pearman] and Marion [Hobby], and they felt like they needed some linebacker-type guys to help on special teams. And we can use him on defense.”

The young secondary also showed improvement against the Hokies, and Steele said it was an efficient game from the unit.

“It was not their best effort, but it was their most efficient,” he said. “They have more confidence in being able to adapt to the system, which means we can give them more plays. We don’t have to line them up like toy soldiers. We were able to give them more plays this past week. It wasn’t about what they didn’t know, it was about their confidence. Now they have that confidence.”

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