Enthused about defense

CLEMSON - Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has an interesting point of view when talking about enthusiasm on the football field.

"Enthusiasm is like the measles," he said. "If you don't have them, you can't give them to anybody."

Well, Steele must be covered in them.

The new Clemson coach, who will also coach linebackers, is all about being excited and showing that on every play. He even took a few seconds in between plays Tuesday to try and fire up a few of his linebackers.

"It is going to be a blessing playing for him," middle linebacker Brandon Maye said. "He is going to be a real fiery guy. He is the man out there. He wants everything to perfection. If you mess it up, he wants to repeat it.

"He wants it done just right."

And to do it right, you must first play with a level of excitement that cannot be matched by your opposition.

"The game of football needs to be played with passion and aggressiveness and excitement. so we try to be enthusiastic and try to put some fun in it, while still trying to be technique and scheme sound," Steele said.

Steele's defenses in the past have been just that, sound in what they do, but yet aggressive and fun to watch. Last year, he helped lead Alabama's unit to a No. 1 ranking in the SEC, while being known as one of the best in the country.

"I'm looking for good linebackers," he said. "When I coached the Carolina Panthers, Sam Mills was 5-9 you know, bless his soul, and weighed 228 pounds and went to five or six pro bowls. It is about skill."
His linebackers were also considered among the best and he has built a solid reputation that expands through the college ranks and into the NFL.

"Coach Steele will bring an added part because his defenses are known for being physical and playing great defense," Maye said. "He is instilling that in us to come out and bring it every day and play at a physical level."

Steele is especially looking for that kind of performance from his linebackers.

"I'm looking for good linebackers," he said. "When I coached the Carolina Panthers, Sam Mills was 5-9 you know, bless his soul, and weighed 228 pounds and went to five or six pro bowls. It is about skill.

"Now skill can overcome the package, but really what you would like to have is one big guy and two speed guys. But if a guy has skill, that negates all of that."

Steele is also looking for players that have instincts.

"They have to have it because you can't coach instincts," he said. "From there they have to play the game with a passion and have the ability to consume being tenacious and attacking. Then you start with the variables - height, weight, speed, explosion, and those kinds of things."

Right now there are a lot of guys that fit that description at Clemson. Steele says overall his lnebackers are a good group and are trying hard for him.

"They are picking up on the new concepts and some have already played at a high level so it is just a matter of adapting to the new concepts and going from there," he said. "We will be multiple and we will be able to pressure when we need to get pressure and we will be able to cover when we need to cover.

"But the biggest thing is to get them to understand the concepts of the game."

But it starts with first being enthusiastic.

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