Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele scoffs at the notion that he'd have make sure that no rift forms between players on defense and those on offense.
"This is a very close football team and a very close staff," he said. "We fought our lights out against two top 15 ranked opponents and came up seven points short. We're having fun."
Not that losing to a pair of top 25 ranked opponents is the end of the world. But Steele wants to win more football games. That starts with looking at the next game and always looking ahead to the next play.
And he's reminded all the time that it's really catching on.
"If you don't have that mentality…people look up there see 1:50 and down by four, they say, ‘Oh, no. This is over.' What happens? The team makes a first down and it is over," Steele said, referencing what could have been late in the fourth quarter on Saturday.
Instead, the Horned Frogs went three and out and punted, giving the Tiger offense one more shot at scoring.
"I think play the next play is the thing they've bought into that's helped them the most," he said.
Giving up only 14 points to Texas Christian was a little overshadowed by the 100 rushing yards by quarterback Andy Dalton. When the traditional zone read play that was run wasn't always the big play which Steele said happened 12 times for four yards a carry.
"We've still got to do better than that, but it was the other ones where we had the break downs and kind of happened at inopportune times," Steele said. "In assessing it all, I thought our guys played hard."
Each time they hit a "chunk" play on the ground with Dalton, Steele saw his defense playing the next play.
In a profession that is a copycat business-coaching, he doesn't see teams trying to beat the Clemson defense by running the ball in "smash mouth" situations that include two running backs and a tight end or visa versa. Whether teams continue running with quarterbacks, remains to be seen. Steele pointed out that Texas Christian didn't put together long, sustaining drives with zone reads.
"They still had some success. The short passing game was effective. They isolated some things that we can get corrected and really did too on some of that," he said.
Effective pressure on the quarterback was quite enough was limited because of the quick throws incorporated into the Texas Christian game plan. Like Dalton, Steele said Maryland quarterback Chris Turner is a good game manager.
Behind a reshuffled offensive line that has given up 14 sacks this year, there could be a similar game plan for Turner to have a lot of quick throws to the likes of Torrey Smith and Ronnie Tyler. But there's potential go deep too, mostly on first and second down.
"They've got speed and deep ball potential and they throw deep balls," Steele said. "They're one of the few teams that, backed up, come out slinging."
Tuesdays with Kevin Steele
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