Cooper, Alexander provide options

CLEMSON - One look at a thesaurus and Scotty Cooper can use any number of adjectives to describe the defense.

Apart of what he calls a dynamic defense, he believes the versatility is the defense's greatest trait.

"Our line can do so many different things. Our linebackers are athletic. Our safeties can play against the run and pass— they can blitz," he said. "Everyone is so dynamic. Everybody can do more than one thing. They're not just limited to their one position."

Cooper credits the arrival of Kevin Steele for the buzz that's started to generate around the Clemson defense.

"From the first day until now, we're a totally different group," Cooper said.

With a better grasp of Steele's philosophy, Cooper believes the team is a lot different than it was four months ago.

Not one to pay attention to newspapers and message boards, he doesn't pay attention to the questions about the linebackers.

"You hear it, but I don't really read that stuff," Cooper said. "You definitely hear it. It can be used as a little bit of motivation. But for the most part, we don't worry about. We can only worry about what we can control and that's our play that's being criticized."

Kevin Alexander's addition to the linebacker corps has hushed the naysayers somewhat.

A player who commands respect yet doesn't demand it, coaches have said when Alexander speaks everyone listens.

"I don't know why that is. I guess the guys just respect me because I work hard and don't say too much," he said.

A linebacker his entire football career before being moved to end at Clemson, Alexander said he's really comfortable at the strong side position, where he's been cross-training throughout preseason camp.

"I enjoyed getting back there. It took a day or two to get back adjusted to it," he said.

Like Cooper, Alexander believes the defense is ahead of where it was last year at this time.

"We're more focused and just coming out and putting together what talked about in the meetings on the football field," Alexander said.

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