Tuesdays with Kevin Steele

CLEMSON - Kevin Steele holds South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier in pretty high regard.


Throughout his coaching career, Clemson's third-year defensive coordinator has kept a close eye on the Gamecocks' coach, who's at the end of year No. 7 in Columbia.

"Coach Spurrier is one of the best -- in my opinion -- offensive coaches in my coaching career," Steele said. "Part of that is he has always developed quarterbacks, in his own unique way."

Over his 22-year college coaching career, Spurrier has amassed a record of 195-75-2.

"I don't know that anybody has called plays for as long as he's called plays and done it as good as he's done. There's not many head coaches that call plays," Steele said.

Spurrier has gone about things a little differently in 2011. The coach who was once known for his "fun and gun" passing attack has reverted to a "ground and pound" grind it out style of play.

Through the air, South Carolina passers have completed 166 of 280 throws for 1,919 yards with 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

"They're not doing it as much. All the components are there. All of his fingerprints are still there. It's the way it's called," Steele said. "What they're doing is what they've always done. It's just that they're calling more of one thing than they're calling of the other."

Run plays are getting a bulk of the calls.

The Gamecocks have rushed 460 times for 2,166 yards and 25 touchdowns. Much of that production is from the zone-read.

"It's their No. 1 play, by far and away. It's not even close," Steele said. "The hard thing about it is we're very multiple on defense. And they run it a lot of different formations.

"In five games, 148 different formations. That's a lot of formations in five games. We're multiple, so making sure that you get the repetition of who's going to see what when."

Running the point on the zone-read plays is quarterback Connor Shaw, who has 97 carries for 503 yards and six touchdowns.

But he doesn't have the luxury of handing off to leading rusher Marcus Lattimore [163 carries for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns]. Lattimore is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. His replacement, Brandon Wilds, is second with 100 carries for 462 yards and three scores.

Spurrier has also shown a penchant for going to the wildcat. Wide receiver Bruce Ellington is usually the man for that job.

"You work on it enough now that the element of surprise is not what it once was. Still, you can get yourself out of position if you don't react to it quick," Steele said.

Then, of course, there's leading pass catcher Alshon Jeffery.

"He runs very good routes. He's a huge body," Steele said. "You've got a power forward running the lane on a point guard, and he's got really good ball skills, really, really good ball skills. By that, he can adjust his body and catch the ball in some really unorthodox ways."

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