Steele talks Wofford, freshmen

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele joked on Tuesday that when his defense plays Florida St. and their regular, two-back, two tight end set in a few weeks, they might not know where to line up.

Lining up against two-back, I-formation teams simply doesn’t happen anymore, and Steele said that this week’s challenge – against Southern Conference foe Wofford – is not as simple as people think. He also said that the Terriers and their option offense are not as much like Georgia Tech as people might think.

"I guess the best way to describe them is they're about, probably, 40 percent Georgia Tech,” Steele said. “Then, the other 60 percent falls where it is like 30 percent Auburn and 30 percent South Carolina. So go game plan that.”

Fullback Eric Breitenstein is the favorite to be named the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and he set a school record with 1,639 yards a year ago. He finished fifth in the nation in rushing and scored 22 touchdowns, while quarterback Mitch Allen tallied 681 yards on the ground.

Steele said the duo will present a unique challenge.

"The running back and the quarterback are very effective at what they do," Steele said. "The running back is hard to tackle. He runs hard. He's got deceptive speed. He can run fast. They gave it to him 267 times last year, so he's pretty durable."

Steele says that he likes for his defense to only give up an average of 3.3 yards per rush, and last week’s average was hurt simply because of how many young players were on the field.

"When we started substituting – and we freely substituted early and often - we had some young mistakes that were critical," Steele said. "Statistically, it's probably going to affect us for a good part of the year, until we get this thing seasoned-up.

"It was just a little hesitation here and there or we make that goal. “We're working hard to get it resolved. We will get it resolved because we've got guys that are very focused and have got the talent. We've just got to get the experience to them as quick as we can get it. Game experience is unlike practice experience. It's a lot different."

Steele said the defensive coaches are going to have to “manufacture” experience for the younger players by simply putting them in the games.

"We've got to manufacture experience in a quick, quick fashion," Steele said. "You can practice them all day long. You can go scrimmage them all day long. The only way to manufacture that experience in a short period of time for a long season is to put them out there."

*Steele said he is unsure of the rotation in the secondary on Saturday. Safety Rashard HallRashard Hall
RS Jr. Safety
#31 6-2, 200
St. Augustine, FL

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won't play because of a knee injury.

"It's day to day,” Steele said. “We live day to day anyway. That's just the nature of the business. It's not something we're sitting here wringing our hands worrying about. We've got guys who have played that we expect to step up and play. Robert SmithRobert Smith
Fr. Defensive Back
#27 5-11, 195
St. George, SC

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is a young guy but he's got ability and he's a good player. With these younger players, body language tells you a lot. Sometimes they will come over to the sideline and they look like they’ve seen a ghost. Robert looked like he had been there before.”

*Steele was asked what one thing he wanted to improve on this week, and he said it wasn’t one thing, it was everything.

“You make your biggest improvement from game one to game two,” he said. “It's something we live by, whether it's true or not. You try to make it happen. That's every facet of the game. Surprisingly enough, sometimes things aren't what you think they are. I came out very frustrated with missed tackles. The truth of the matter is that it was about an average game in terms of missed tackles. But some came at critical times. We didn't tackle well, but we didn't tackle poorly either."

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