Steele talks West Virginia and Orange Bowl


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AUDIO: Kevin Steele after practice comments (MP3 format)

CLEMSON – Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin SteeleKevin Steele
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
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and his defense are coming off a dominating performance against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, and he said the difference between that game and some of the others that have seen the Tigers struggle was small.

“If you watch the tapes, there are only about five or six plays in any given game where you would say, ‘Wow. What happened?’ That game, we didn’t allow those five or six plays. They all went our way,” he said. “We have a standard of excellence that we strive very hard to reach every week. I think, for whatever reason, it came together really well for that week. “

Clemson faces a strong West Virginia passing attack – the Mountaineers are ranked 7th nationally with 341.8 passing yards per game - in the Orange Bowl, and Steele said his team will have to watch out for the screen pass.

“Passing game-wise, there’s only so many concepts that you can have,” he said. “The concepts, there are other people in this league that run the concepts. Probably more screens – something like 83 screens in six games. That’s a lot of screens.”

The offense is fueled by quarterback Geno Smith.

“He gets the ball out of his hands really quick,” Steele said. “They’re a catch and throw team. He’s accurate. He’s got a big arm. He can throw it down the field. He’s an accurate thrower. They don’t run him a lot. He scrambles to throw. They’re not a zone read team, but we will practice it, because we do every week. They don’t really run him a lot. He’s kind of almost like an NFL-style quarterback.”


Helping the Tigers’ cause has been the steady play of corners Coty SensabaughCoty Sensabaugh
Gr. Defensive Back
#15 6-0, 180
Kingsport, TN

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and Bashaud BreelandBashaud Breeland
RS Fr. Defensive Back
#17 6-0, 185
Allendale, SC

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, and Steele said Sensabaugh is playing at a high level right now.

“I think, probably the biggest thing, anybody that watched the championship game would say Coty did an outstanding job, really dominated,” Steele said. “He had the one interference call – and I won't say any more about that – but he’s gotten to where, now, you don’t even realize he’s out there. They don’t attack the side that he’s on. It’s almost like saying, ‘OK, go out there and play with 10 men.’ That’s kind of where Coty is right now with his game. For a corner, when they stop throwing in your direction, it’s a pretty good thing.”

He called Breeland a fighter.

“He is exactly what you need, temperament-wise, defensively,” he said. “He will fight you all day long. In some way, on or off the field. That’s not necessarily all that bad sometimes. He’s learned how to not do that. He is a very tenacious football player on the field. He’s really become a good technique player. He’s just got that fighter’s spirit, which takes it to another level.”

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