"They came together as a group, and that's probably the biggest thing that has happened," Steele said following the White's 30-13 victory Saturday.
Even though it was split up, Steele's defense looked the part in front of a record crowd of 24,000 fans for the annual spring game at Memorial Stadium. The two defensive units combined for eight sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, three interceptions and allowed just 2.9 yards per rush on 69 carries.
"We were very, very limited in our calls and because we were limited in our calls we challenged them to play hard technique wise, win technique wise and play with fundamentals and tackle well," Steele said.
"We did that for the most part, but we had a few sloppy tackles out there, but for the most part we played well."
The defense also scored Saturday as Crezdon Butler returned a tipped pass 32 yards for a touchdown to give the White a 14-0 lead with 5:14 to play in the first quarter.
"That was probably the difference in the game," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. "All of a sudden the Orange was driving it and instead of having to get a score, they were having to get two scores there. That's a good point to hammer home offensively. We can't beat ourselves, but on the flip side defensively, if you can create some inopportune moments with some picks, fumbles and turnovers then you can really put a lot of pressure on the other team, especially late in the game."
Once again, Da'Quan Bowers and the defensive front were the story of the afternoon.
Bowers had two sacks, including one on a third-and-goal play in the second quarter that forced the Orange to settle for a 27-yard Spencer Benton field goal.
"I think we got a lot accomplished this spring defensively," Bowers said. "It's a new defense that Coach Steele brought in, but it is a solid one and I think we got a lot accomplished with learning the schemes and those kinds of things."
The defense also appeared to be more physical. Steele did not give his unit any other choice, and right off the bat he let his defense know that football is a contact sport and that's what he wants to see on every play.
"This defense is based on being physical," Bowers said. "It puts guys in the right situation and I think it is going to help us tremendously.
"There is a lot of straight up and head on blocking. There isn't a lot of zoning. When there is, it is quick and it is hard to block so I think it is going to cause a lot of offense problems."
That is what it did Saturday. Besides Bowers' sacks, the defensive front saw Rennie Moore register four tackles from the nose tackle position for the White, while Jenkins had five to lead the Orange team.
Kevin Alexander and Miguel Chavis added four tackles from their defensive line positions to help the Orange.
"We made a lot of progress this spring," Steel said. "We really emphasized playing well with good pad leverage and using our hands and the things up in the trenches that make a huge difference. It was a hard day's work to get that done, but we made progress with it."
MOORE PLEASE: Though Moore had a good day Saturday, it has nothing to do with him moving up the depth chart. The redshirt sophomore has made huge strides this spring and it hasn't gone unnoticed.
"Rennie has a lot of talent. He has moved up the food chain if you will," Steele said. "He is a young guy that is doing a lot and is doing a good job, and is doing what we ask him to do."
MIKE HIM UP: According to Steele, senior Jeremy Campbell has really come a long way this spring and has a good chance to be a factor for the Tigers at middle linebacker this coming fall.
"Jeremy Campbell is a smart guy and is really good in space," Steele said. "If it becomes a space game in which they are spreading things out, he has a good sense of knowing route combinations and what is coming and what is not coming. He does a real good job with that."
SAFETY WORK FOR GILCHRIST: It appears Marcus Gilchrist will indeed get a chance to compete at safety this fall. Steele says, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior is one of the defense's best 11 players and he has to be out on the field.
"Gilchrist is a guy that has proven to us as a staff that he is in that best 11 category," the Clemson coach said. "He is right there in that bubble to be in the best 11 so we have to find a way to get him on the field."
IN THE LEAD: He has not won the job just yet, but it appears Sadat Chambers will enter fall camp as the starting free safety. Steele said Chambers had a very good spring and impressed him in a number of different areas.
Defense confident entering summer
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