Despite the result, Steele said there are plenty of positives from Saturday's 21-16 loss to North Carolina.
"Coming out of that game, the total offense output, that's very respectable— 255, is hard to do in any league game," he said. "We were the third-best third-down efficiency in two years, at 78 percent.
"Our rushing defense was the second-best. The only other one that was better, yardage-wise rushing game was Coastal Carolina. Our passing defense, in terms of overall yardage, completion percentage, efficiency was fourth-best. In terms of the numbers, we had a lot of things."
"Mental errors" were down, too.
"It was the least mental errors we've had in two years. It was way far off the chart. It was really good," Steele said. "Anytime you play a game with 66 snaps and 11 players on the field, and we had seven mental errors. That's hard to do."
The Tar Heels' offense hit on two big plays. Another positive.
"We played that game with only two big plays. That's the second least we've had," he said.
Heading into this weekend's game versus Maryland, Steele would like to see his defense setup more scoring opportunities for Clemson's offense.
"Last year, we were very efficient in setting up scores—getting the ball on the 6, getting ball on the 20, getting ball on the 38," he said. "We just hadn't done that, quite as effectively."
Maryland employs a two-pronged attack at quarterback with Danny O'Brien and Jamarr Robinson.
Robinson, the starter in the first three games, is 21 of 43 passing for 308 yards and four touchdowns. He's the Terrapins' third-leading rusher with 30 carries for 88 yards.
O'Brien, who's completed 32 of 63 passing attempts in all five games this season, has a 148.76 efficiency rating with 499 yards and six touchdowns..
"Against Navy, Morgan State and West Virginia, there was a lot of quarterback runs. Quarterback powers, counters, zone-extras," Steele said. "And then he goes out, and O'Brien comes in. You didn't see the quarterback runs with O'Brien. He's a good athlete and can run. You just didn't see them, for whatever reason. I don't know.
"It's almost like two offenses, in a sense. In the third-down passing game, in the tailback run-game, it's the same thing, but there's a major, major difference when 11 is in—Robinson—of the play selection on run downs, and when [O'Brien] is in."
Steele added that information on Robinson's shoulder injury against West Virginia has been hard to dig up. O'Brien was also nicked in the 31-17 loss to West Virginia. Both are healthy and available for Saturday's game.
"It's the first time that we know of, that they've both been healthy for this game," Steele said. "The million-dollar question is what are you going to get?"
Maryland's offense has lacked in balance through four games. The Terrapins average 34 runs and 21 passes a game.
Davin Meggett, son of former NFL running back Dave Meggett, leads the team with 325 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Da'Rei Scott is second with 259 yards and three scores.
Preseason All-ACC wide receiver Torrey Smith leads Maryland with 17 catches for 405 yards and five touchdowns.
"Offensively, they're a typically Ralph Friedgen offense, in that they run the ball very effectively, and they throw it efficiently, and they don't beat themselves," Steele said. "They just kind of take what you give them and methodically kind of take care of business, well coached. I've always thought they were well coached."
Tuesdays with Kevin Steele
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