The new Clemson defensive coordinator is known for finding different ways to bring blitzes, whether it is the classic way with the backers and maybe a safety or the more complicated way where corners and ends come at the quarterback, while defensive tackles and linebackers fall back into coverage in what is called a zone blitz.
When he draws up his blitz schemes this year, Steele is really going to have the chance to be creative thanks to a secondary that can more than hold its own, especially at cornerback. The Tigers return their top four corners from last season, including starters Chris Chancellor and Crezdon Butler.
By the way, their second string guys Byron Maxwell and Marcus Gilchrist are not bad either.
"The way I look at it, there are four starters. I don't think anyone is going to breakout into a sweat on the defensive staff if anyone of those four are out there at any point and time," Steele said. "That's a good thing."
It's a good thing because it creates so much competition at a position that can never have enough.
"It's not so much who is the starter, it's who gets the job done," Clemson secondary coach Charlie Harbison said. "If the guy is not getting the job done, then he is not going to be out there. You have to make the right decision on who is playing on Saturday."
Chris Chancellor (5-foot-10, 165 pounds, senior, Miramar, Fla.)
About: Is a three-year starter at cornerback. Has eight career interceptions, including three against South Carolina. Had two picks against the Gamecocks last season. He is a preseason candidate for the Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation's best defensive back. He has 23 career passes broken up and 30 passes defended. Has played in 39 straight games and has started 28 in a row. Had four interceptions last season, which was tied for second on the team.
The positives: He is extremely fast and can cover one-on-one or in zone coverage. Has good hands and rarely gets beat. He is also very smart and knows how to bait quarterbacks.
The negatives: At 5-foot-10, 165 pounds he is vulnerable to tall and physical receivers.
Byron Maxwell (6-foot-1, 200 pounds, redshirt junior, North Charleston, S.C.)
About: Is a starter for just about any team in the country. He is among the hardest hitters on the team. Had six tackles as a reserve player in the Gator Bowl. Named special teams player of the week three times and defensive player of the week once by the coaches, tying C.J. Spiller for the lead with the most overall selections. Led the special teams with 21 tackles. Led all non-starters with 54 tackles, including three tackles for a loss.
The positives: He is tall and his body size is almost that of a safety instead of a corner. Not as fast as Chancellor, but has good enough speed to stay locked up in one-on-one coverage. Because of his size and weight, he is a little more equipped to handle tall and physical receivers.
The negatives: Can work on his hands. He has eight career passes broken up, but he still has not recorded an interception.
Coty Sensabaugh (6-foot, 180 pounds, redshirt sophomore, Kingsport, Tenn.)
About: Played in all 12 games last year and recorded five tackles, one interception and one broken up pass. Played eight of the last nine games in the secondary and also played special teams.
The positives: He did a lot of good things in the spring. He has good hands and is tall enough to take on tall receivers. He has very good instincts and breaks to the ball well.
The negatives: At 180 pounds, he could use some weight and needs to get stronger in order to compete against physical wideouts.
Post spring insider: CBs (Part 1)
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