The aggressor

CLEMSON - Tiger fans will notice a change in Clemson's defensive scheme this coming season. A big change.

With spring practice just a few days away new Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is anxious to see where a defense that finished among the nation's best in total and scoring defense last fall stacks up in his scheme.

"We just kind of put it in a bucket and throw it on the wall and what sticks will stick," Steele said. "What doesn't stick will hit the floor and we will pick it up, put it back in the bucket and throw it back up there again and see what else sticks.

"When the bucket gets a little low, we put some more in there and throw it up against the wall. It is just a process."

It's a process Steele hopes doesn't take too much time considering the Tigers return nine starters for spring practice.

"You never stay the same and you never have enough," he said. "Coaches are very greedy people. They always want bigger, stronger, faster players constantly. We have what we have and get them as good as you can get them ready and make sure the scheme is to where you take advantage of their strengths and don't expose their weaknesses.

"That's the biggest key."

Though Clemson plans to continue running its base defense out a 4-3, there will be some differences in his scheme compared to the scheme former defensive coordinator Vic Koenning ran.

DeAndre McDaniel will no longer be the starting strong side linebacker, instead, he will drop back to his natural position at safety.
For one, DeAndre McDaniel will no longer be the starting strong side linebacker, instead, he will drop back to his natural position at safety, especially when the offense has big personnel in. When an offense goes three and four wide, then the junior will drop into a nickel back role, which will basically be the role he had last year in Koenning's scheme.

Another difference will be the scheme itself.

Though is based out of a 4-3, Steele's will be designed around formations in terms of their alignment. Koenning's scheme was predicated to the boundary and the field sides of the formations.

"Before I do anything here I want to make sure that everyone clearly understands that this thing is not broke," Steele said. "They were pretty good here on defense. They had a good coach, they were well coached, and they had a good scheme. But obviously there has been a change."

Clemson will also change its personality on defense.

Under Koenning the Tigers had a reputation of being passive and not attacking. Steele's reputation is exactly the opposite. He loves to get after the quarterback and put pressure on the offense. But that doesn't mean he is going to blitz every play.

"I like to blitz because that is my personality, but you will not coach defense long if you blitz Payton Manning just because you like to blitz," he said. "He will get it to that guy right now, and to that guy right now and then your owner will be saying come here.

"It is not a matter of what you like and what you don't like. I'm like a lot of people who watch football. I like a lot of pressure. It is fun and it creates a lot of things and sometime it is not so good. Particularly if you have a team that understands protection and is good across the board protection wise."

In other words, he is going to play the quarterback, the down and distance, and more importantly the score.

"The bottom line is players play the game and you have to know this is what they do well and this is what they understand and this is what they can execute and put the others back in the library and use it only if needed," Steele said. "Don't complicate things." Top Stories