Steele looks ahead to WVU

CLEMSON - Defensive coordiantor Kevin Steele takes a look at the high-powered West Virginia offense Clemson will play in the Orange Bowl.

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First-year head coach Dana Holgorsen brought similar passing game concepts to West Virginia that he learned as an assistant under Mike Leach at Texas Tech and Hal Mumme at Valdosta State.

"There are some concepts in it," Steele said. "He's added his own stuff in it. Conceptually, you'll see a package of this and a package of that and say, ‘That's Leach.'"

Over the course of his 30-year coaching career, Steele's encountered just about everything, especially through the air.

"Passing game-wise, there's only so many concepts that you can have," he said. "The concepts, there are other people in this league that run the concepts. Probably more screens -- 83 screens in six games. That's a lot of screens."

West Virginia ranks No. 7 in the country in passing offense with 341.8 yards per game. The Mountaineers are 26th nationally in pass efficiency with a rating of 148.24.

Running the show on the field is Geno Smith, who's completed 314 of 483 passes for 3,978 yards with 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

"He gets the ball out of his hands really quick," Steele said. "They're a catch and throw team. He's accurate. He's got a big arm. He can throw it down the field. He's an accurate thrower."

Smith is hardly a dual-threat. Though he's gained 154 yards and scored once on the ground this season, his net yardage total is -59.

"They don't run him a lot," Steele said. "He scrambles to throw. They're not a zone read team, but we will practice it, because we do every week.

"They don't really run him a lot. He's kind of almost like an NFL-style quarterback."

OUT ON THE ISLAND: The Clemson cornerbacks will have their hands full with a pair of 1,000-yard wide receivers -- Steadman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

Steele spoke about his top two cornerbacks.

Coty Sensabaugh…
"I think, probably the biggest thing, anybody that watched the [ACC] championship game would say Coty did an outstanding job, really dominated. He had the one interference call…he's gotten to where, now, you don't even realize he's out there. They don't attack the side that he's on.

"It's almost like saying, ‘OK, go out there and play with 10 men.' That's kind of where Coty is right now with his game. For a corner, when they stop throwing in your direction, it's a pretty good thing."

Bashaud Breeland…
"He is exactly what you need, temperament-wise, defensively. He will fight you all day long. In probably some ways, on or off the field. That's not necessarily all that bad sometimes. He's learned how to not do that. He is a very tenacious football player on the field. He's really become a good technique player. He's just got that fighter's spirit, which takes it to another level."

THINKING BACK TO CHARLOTTE: In the Dec. 3 ACC Championship win over Virginia Tech, the Hokies were held to 10 points and 330 yards of total offense.

"We have a standard of excellence that we strive very hard to reach every week. I think, for whatever reason, it came together really well for that week," Steele said.

It helped that all the breaks seemingly went their way.

"If you watch the tapes, there are only about five or six plays in any given plays where you would say, ‘Wow. What happened?' That game, we didn't allow those five or six plays. They all went our way," he said.

THE JAYVEES: With Orange Bowl practice now underway, underclass players with little or no experience will go through jayvee practice, which is customary under head coach Dabo Swinney.

Though Steele wouldn't go into detail about which of the younger defenders have caught his eye, he did name two names.

"We've got some good, young talent. B.J. Goodson and guys like that -- Cortez Davis -- some very talented young men," he said.


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