Steele discusses defense

CLEMSON - Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele breaks down the good with the bad after Saturday's win.

(5:14)

Opening statement...
Steele: I really don't know what to say. We did some good things. I thought we were effective on the run. They had that little wildcat deal they came out with. It was very unique, because it was an empty wildcat with two tight ends. We got them over there and got that situated. I thought we were effective in the run game. Until late, we did not rush the passer very effectively. One of the reasons, guys, so you know, there were a lot of quick balls thrown. A lot of quicks, getting it out of his hand really quick. It was a good plan. They did a really good job of cutting us up front and getting the ball out of their hands. Probably the thing we've got to eliminate, we had a couple of plays -- 37, 57 yards. All in all, we got it done. When it was on the line in the two-minute situation, those guys stepped up in a big way. It could have gotten real interesting.

Can you put it into perspective just how important it was, how big it was for you guys?
Steele: The thing that's probably the biggest thing, it's not 4-0. It's the first ACC game. In this league, if you don't win that first one, it puts you behind the eight-ball. In that regard, it helps if you win that first one. It's very difficult if you don't. Somebody else is driving when that happens, particularly when it's a divisional game.

Your offense has been kind of stealing the headlines here early on. How good does it feel to have your unit be the ones that kind of seal this one?
Steele: No, no. Just write about [the offense] all you want. We'll stay invisible. I'm proud of the players, but that is irrelevant. It really is. It's irrelevant. It doesn't have anything to do with anything. We've got to get better defensively. We've got to focus on what we've got to get better. They do what they do. At the end of the day, the bottom line is what Al Davis said. Just win.

In terms of confidence, it's got to help that you guys stopped them.
Steele: I'm no psychologist, but I know this -- you get more confident in winning than losing. I know that.

Who were some of the guys that stood out to you, individually?
Steele: I thought Branch, Rennie and Brandon. Even though they were cutting those guys up front, to get the ball out of there, they just relentlessly kept on working. I thought our safeties -- we tackled better today, too -- our safeties did a good job of kind of orchestrating things, Jonathan and Hall. We had two young, freshmen corners. Robinson hasn't played very much and [Breeland] is this year playing. They got burned a few times. We've got to stop that. Probably the thing that really kind of sticks in your crawl, we were rolling along pretty good, and then we get a 15-yard penalty...l'm started to get real irritated about the fact, if we give up a 15-yard penalty on the drive, we might as well go ahead and kick the extra-point. Wherever the ball is at, just go on down there and kick. We've got to get out of that.

What was your perspective of that last sack on Trickett?
Steele: We had a game on. We were actually in coverage. We did not pressure. We had a game on. We just got relentless effort by upfront guys.

Was that a stunt?
Steele: It was a twist.

Twenty-nine rushing yards...
Steele: Twenty-nine? I didn't know that.

And one sack...
Steele: Two sacks.

Where do you credit that improvement against the run?
Steele: We tackled better. I thought the guys fit the gap better. Of course, it wasn't but 15 times. That's less than two yards a carry. That's the key. What is the rushing yards per average? I don't get into, was it 39 yards or 100? What, at the end of the day, did they rush the ball per attempt?

How often were you in base defense?
Steele: We played a little more base. When they got down, when I think it was 35, they went straight four wides and three wides. Then, we were out of it. In the first half, we played a good bit of base defense.

You held them to 3 of 10 on third-down. That's one of the bigger things you usually stress.
Steele: I'm telling you now...that's the goal, win 70 percent of third-down. That's huge. If you can win 70 percent of third-down and stop the rush -- we've got to do a better job of penalties and eliminate penalties in key situations. They're 15 yarders, not five yarders.

Did you think they were going to end up throwing a lot more today?
Steele: I kind of suspected. No. I thought they'd throw the quicks. I thought we'd see more screens. For some reason, I did think we'd see the wildcat, which we saw...you go in the game thinking you're going to see one thing and you get the totally other.

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