Redshirt sophomore DeShaun Davis (above) is making a push for playing time.
“After day nine and a scrimmage in that nine, obviously we have a little bit more in the evaluation folder,” Steele said as the Tigers head into another scrimmage on Saturday.
“Realizing that we’re still three weeks away from the game, we have got a lot way to go, but we do have some information now and information that factors in some of the young guys,” he said.
The Tigers, who will open the season on Sept. 3rd vs. No. 2 ranked Clemson, are in total football mode through Monday prior to the start of fall semester classes the following day.
“I think across the board we’re getting the physicality from up front that we need,” Steele said. “We still have a ways to go. Obviously, that is set by the older guys, Car (defensive end Carl Lawson) and Mon (Montravius Adams) and those guys, and they’ve done a good job of setting that tempo.
“We have got to get the whole group there,” the defensive coordinator said. “We have got good numbers there. We have got good depth there. We have all got to get physically combative in the trenches. That is going to be key. I think our pass rush, we’ve seen some sparks of being able to affect the passer and that’s good.
“As far as on the back end, Wesley (second coach Wesley McGriff) has done a really nice job of developing technique and understanding of the game,” Steele said. “The corners with Dean (Jamel Dean) and JD (Javaris Davis) and Carlton (Carlton Davis), those three obviously have stood out and they should stand out. They are very capable players.
“We have got to add another guy to that mix some way, some how. Three is not enough and four sometimes is not enough, particularly when you are playing in a league that plays a lot of spread offense.”
Steele noted that fifth-year senior Josh Holsey, who can play all positions in the secondary, is an option at cornerback, a position he has experience at as a starter. Holsey is making a comeback after missing the 2015 season due to his second ACL surgery.
“At the linebacker position we keep making progress,” Steele said. “I think 57 Davis (DeShaun Davis has done a good job, he and Tre (Tre Williams), of quarterbacking the defense. They understand it. They handle pressure well. That’s been a positive.
“Darrell Williams is coming along and we’re using him in several different roles and he’s handling it very well and being productive.
Montavious Atkinson is a sophomore linebacker.
“Atkinson (Montavius Atkinson) went into the scrimmage and was very, very productive. In fact he was the most productive player in the scrimmage if you factor in everything. They get negative points for loafs, they get negative points for mental errors, they get negative points for missed tackles, they get positive points for the positive things they do. He was the highest point getter. He’s playing fast and playing in his comfort zone.
“That’s kind of a synopsis of where we’re at individually,” the coach pointed out. “Collectively, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we have a schedule and we’re on schedule for the most part. We just have to keep getting physically dominating and mentally sharp and understanding our job.
“You can go out on the practice field and practice the next three weeks and I promise you in the first game in the first 15 plays we will see something in which it’s out of the coaches’ hands now. They have to be a problem solver. It’s not some card we showed them in practice. It’s not some rep they’ve seen. It’s something new. They’ve got to apply their principles, apply their trade, and be a problem solver without the coach out there. We’ve got to get that developed at a rapid speed.”