Steele talks Georgia Tech


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – It’s Georgia Tech week, which means Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin SteeleKevin Steele
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
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spent his Tuesday session with the media answering questions about Jacket head coach Paul Johnson’s option attack.

Steele sat patiently through all of the questions, and even seemed at ease as he talked about preparing for the misdirection and fakes that Johnson’s offense employs. At one point, he even said this week was “fun” for him.

“No, it's kind of fun, really. It’s just another week,” Steele said. “We play them every year. It is what it is. To have an opinion or an attitude about it - if you don't want to play it, go to the Big 12 because they don’t play it out there."

Steele was asked if he enjoys the chess match with Johnson during the game, and he smiled and said that doesn’t quite explain how he feels about it.

“It hasn’t got anything to do with me. Maybe Paul,” he said. “I promise you I won't be out there on that field. In terms of preparing, the preparation of it, it's fun. It's a lot more fun than the game sometimes."

One writer asked Steele why more coaches don’t employ the option attack, especially considering how difficult it is to prepare for.

“We went through this last year, and there are all kinds of reasons,” he said. “The recruiting to it. The philosophy to it. There aren't that many guys who know the option like Paul, in my opinion. It's what he knows, he's good at it, and that's what he does. Just as there are a lot of people in this building who if you said we were going to the option, they'd probably be looking for a job tomorrow."

He said that Johnson’s mastery of the offense is what makes him such a dangerous game day opponent.

"He's got enough in his arsenal that he just kind of keeps playing around until he finds something," Steele said. "He will try three or four things, and then when he finds something, he just keeps wearing you out with it."

Through eight games this season, the Jackets are fifth nationally in rushing at 321.1 yards per game and sixth in pass efficiency with a 175.2 rating after hitting several big pass plays at the first of the year.

North Carolina head coach Everett Withers said during his postgame press conference after Saturday’s loss to the Tigers that their offensive coaching staff thought they could take advantage of Clemson’s safeties, and I asked Steele if safety play was indeed an issue, and he said yes.

“He was right, and they did take advantage of it,” he said. “It was double moves. We got burned twice on that. It’s eyes. It’s discipline. And that is important in a game like this. Where you get into trouble is when a player says, ‘I am going to go help that guy do his job.’ And you leave your man and you give up a wide-open receiver for a touchdown. It comes down to doing their jobs. And they do get some wide open throws. I just got through watching film. There wasn't anyone in the camera. I mean they were wide open."

Steele said the Jackets don’t see a multitude of defensive fronts or schemes during their season.

"Basically, they see about two or three different schemes a year,” he said. “Everybody's got their little nuances that they try to trick them on. The base stuff that people play against them - you turn on the film, our film from last year, which is in the cut-ups- you watch the Maryland film, you watch the North Carolina film, you watch the Miami film, they're almost identically lined up.”

Steele said that Johnson always comes up with a new wrinkle for each game, usually involving how they block the seven or eight core plays in their arsenal, and each play can have six or seven blocking variations.


"He's going to have some wrinkle, usually it's a formation with some variation of the play, how they block it - that's every game,” he said. "We've got to be solid up front. We've got to dominate the line of scrimmage. There's no doubt about that. Then, in the secondary, those guys have option responsibility, too."

I asked Steele if one defensive player is more important than any other in reading the option, and he said no, that every player has to do his job on every play.

"The one difference is, in a split second, the ball can be in the dive back's belly, the quarterback's hands or the pitch man, so it can be three places pretty quick," Steele said. "If you take your eye off it one second, lose leverage on your assignment, they've got a plus gain. Don't be trying to do someone else's job. It's like if I'm at my house, don't mess with my lawnmower. I'll cut my own grass.”

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