Steele rollin'

CLEMSON - Third-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele doesn't like to handcuff his group with labels.

Whether it's a 4-3, 3-4 or something cool that nobody's ever even heard even of, Steele prefers another.

But it's not a "big issue."

"We're NFL-based. We're pretty multiple with it already," he told reporters after Monday's spring practice session. "If you're a college team that just plays three linebackers and it didn't matter if they had four wide receivers out there, and that's what they did, which I've been there before, that limits you a lot on calls. We're such a matchup team. We've got it all already anyway."

Steele noted that the most important part is getting the best 11 players on the field.

"That's the key," he said. "We've studied a lot of different things. One good thing that's coming out of this, what we're practicing against, we've got some outside help from the NFL. They've done a good job of having packages that are cross-over packages. You can go one way or you can go the other way with your calls and plug it in, because of having those linebackers.


Only a few months removed from his Clemson career, Marcus Gilchrist already has a strong legacy in Tigertown.
"You can be in a nickel look or a base look without having to substitute, which has been kind of fun for them, and they've picked up pretty good."

Quickly making strides
Redshirt freshman defensive back Bashaud Breeland continues to make his name known during spring drills.

After Monday's practice, Steele compared Breeland to former Clemson defensive back player Marcus Gilchrist.

"If [Breeland] keeps doing what he's doing at this point, he has the makings to be somebody that probably can do what Marcus did," Steele said. "Can play nickel, can play corner, can play safety, maybe all in the same game. He's really got a good grasp of it, really competitive and got a lot of skill."

The next level
Heading into the offseason in 2010, Clemson coaches encouraged Da'Quan Bowers to take his play to the next level. That meant doing all the little things to make himself a better player.

Now, Tiger coaches are passing that same message along to Andre Branch.

"We're demanding a lot of him," Steele said. "We've got our foot on him, right now, to take it to the next level. Everybody knows he's a good player."

So far, he said, Branch is buying into the idea.

"It's the same message we give to all of them, whatever level they're at. Go one more and don't ever stop," Steele said. "That's us, too, as coaches."

Moving Barnes inside
With the departure of Jarvis Jenkins, there's a gaping hole left in the rotation of the Clemson defensive line. It's resulted in moving redshirt freshman Tavaris Barnes from end to tackle.

"When you look at the depth of it, you look at [Tyler] Shatley, you look at Brandon [Thompson] and you look at
Rennie [Moore]. Those guys have played," Steele said. "Nobody else has. We can't play with three people. You've got to practice like you're freshman are coming.

"If they don't show up, if Tra [Thomas] and [Josh] Watson aren't ready yet, [Barnes] has shown that he has a grasp of the defense. He's extremely powerful. He's a big enough body that can give you that power in there to command a double-team."


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