STEELE: Plenty of work to do

CLEMSON - Outside of a handful of plays, the Clemson defense was close to dominant through the majority of Saturday night's 27-24 loss to No. 15 Auburn.

Auburn went three-and-out on the first three drives and didn't score until the final seconds of the first half. The first 15 minutes of the second half were a different story as the host Tigers racked up over 200 yards of offense and scored three touchdowns.

Clemson then held Auburn to just 50 yards of total offense after the 83-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter—the final score of the period.

"Right now we are not dominant and, at times, ineffective," said defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. "That's frustrating. But you can't just throw your hands up and say that's frustrating. You have to fix it."

More than anything, it's the inconsistency that he hopes to solve.

"We're headed out of it and there are indicators that we're headed out of it. But there are still times that we're up and down," Steele said. "Right now, what that makes us is really what we were as a total body of work with last year's defense. At times you say, ‘Wow. Impressive.' Other times you go, ‘Whoa. Where is this coming from?'

"We'll get out of it. We know the reasons. We know our problems. We know what we've got to do better. We're starting to feel the true game personality of this defense. What they execute well from a call standpoint because every year is different. Every team is different."

He wanted to take responsibility for the big plays that were a result of defensive backs taking the bait on a double-move.

One of those went for 78 yards and a touchdown.

Steele also noted that playing on the island at cornerback is the hardest job in football.

"It's hard because then he catches the slant and hits the seams, then it's because you didn't break on the ball correctly. Then, you don't break on the ball now, you sit and wait, you kind of hesitate and he goes by you," he said. "It's a hard job. But we know how to execute that. We can execute and we will execute it."

High praise was given to the interior linemen, which Steele said provided a good push up the middle.

"Those guys up front, Brandon Thompson, Jarvis Jenkins and Miguel [Chavis]—Rennie Moore. Those four guys played some pretty impressive up inside there," Steele said. "When you look at the film and you say yardage, it didn't come between the tackles. They were very effective.

"A lot of the plays in the first half and in the fourth quarter, that were made by Da'Quan [Bowers] or made on the edge by [Marcus Gilchrist] or whoever, were made just simply because Brandon or Jarvis was in the backfield. They didn't have anywhere to go but out there."

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