Steele shares positive outlook

CLEMSON - Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele doesn't mind that it's only April.

Weeks into his third-year at Clemson, Steele is pleased with the progress of his unit, but the product is far from finished.

"We've got some good things happening out there. We've got some really good things. We've got guys executing their techniques and understand what's happening," he said after Saturday's stadium scrimmage. "We've got a big bulk of guys that are going to be good players, but they're not ready to play. Don't tell us we've got to play tomorrow."

The Tigers finished 19th in the country total defense and 13th in scoring defense last season. There was plenty of turnover from that unit, which finished first or second among ACC teams in both categories.

Gone from the defensive line are Da'Quan Bowers and Jarvis Jenkins. Marcus Gilchrist and DeAndre McDaniel have left behind a couple of holes in the secondary.

"I know when I took this job guys are going to graduate and eligibility is going to be up," Steele said. "We know that. We work for it. We prepare for it."

The process is underway. After all, it's only April and the season opener is five months away. Steele is still looking for the best 11 players to play on the defensive side of the ball.

"We've got some that are coming along faster and some that are coming along slower," Steele said. "We don't have 11 guys that we can put out there and dominate with right now. We just don't. It's our job to get them there. We'll get them there."

Right now, Steele classifies his players into four different groups.

"There's groups of guys that get it, it's easy to them, they've played a lot of snaps, they know. You say this technique, that technique, they go out there and execute it at a high level," he said. "Then, you've got another group of guys that's maybe played some and maybe started some. They'll still go out there, know it, but still have little bumps in the road.

"Then, you've got another group of guys in that group, but maybe hadn't played, but they've been around it enough, so they know what to do.then, you have guys that are stagnant. Got to find out, do the know? And when are they going to get it going?"

Steele shared a few examples.

"You've got guys that have played. You've got Corico Hawkins that has started 12, 13 games," he said. "And then you've got guys like Corey Crawford that just got here and you've got guys like Jonathan Meeks that have been around and played some, but hadn't been the guy.

"The thing is, it's all different. It's all based on individuals, getting each individual better." Top Stories