Tuesdays with Kevin Steele

CLEMSON - Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele previews Saturday's game against Wake Forest.

Preparing for Wake Forest's offense requires a wide-ranged planning for different formations, looks and potential tendencies.

Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said Tuesday there are times when the Demon Deacons use those things and make them unique to just one game.

"You go back, and it's that way over the course of time," Steele said. "You try to pull from the past."

Against Clemson last year, Wake Forest lined up in empty backfield sets and the wildcat formation, two looks the Demon Deacons haven't shown this year.

Steele said Wake Forest can switch gears in personnel groupings and style of offense from game to game and even from possession to possession during a game. Plus, he said, it can all be executed well.

"It's one of those deals where you work on everything you've seen and then more," he said.

There's a base package from each game that carries over. Then there's some pulled from packages that "attack what they're seeing."

The difficult part for Steele and any other defensive coordinator is zeroing in and working on what is believed to be the most likely to happen on Saturdays.

"You only have so many snaps in a week at practice," Steele said. "And you have the 20-hour rule. We don't get them that much. It's a concern."

Fortunately for the Clemson defense, they saw two extremes in their first two games, from Middle Tennessee's spread to Georgia Tech's option.

"There's not a lot left. The problem is that it's a repetition game," Steele said.

Facing a quarterback in Riley Skinner who's won as many games as he has is also a challenge. Steele said, "There is not much he hasn't seen either."

"You start 37 games and win that many games, he's won a lot of games. He's a winner. The thing he does best is he keeps a play alive."

To keep Skinner from building on his win total this Saturday, Steele said the Wake Forest signal caller needs to be throwing out of a well. When Skinner was a freshman, Steele said he was quicker to pull the ball down to run and scramble.

Now, he's scrambling to throw, not just to run.

"He'll move and slide over here and over there," Steele said. "Next thing you know, he throws it 30 yards downfield on a comeback route that was a post but is coming back to the sideline because he's scrambling. Draw that one up."

Given the relative success that other teams have had in running with the quarterback against Clemson, and Skinner's abilities as a dual threat, Wake Forest could utilize his legs on Saturday. Steele said that Clemson hasn't been beaten because of a quarterback running the ball, instead its been a product of "crossing the goal line".

"We've had some critical first downs made but we've got answers to that," he said. "We just have to execute."

He pointed to the little things that have allowed opposing teams to cross the goal line.

"It's one guy getting knocked back and cutting a guy off in a lane on third and goal against Maryland when we've stopped two times before for no yards—the quarterback has to kick it quick. The safety is in the force position, the alley player is coming, a guy gets knocked back and trips over his foot," Steele said.

"If he doesn't get knocked back, do we make the tackle? You would like to think so. Now it's a field goal, rather than a touchdown after entering the possession at the one-yard line."

After a week of working out the kinks and two weeks to game plan, those touchdowns could have a better chance of being field goals.

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