Tuesdays with Kevin Steele

CLEMSON - Preparing for the ‘Old Ball Coach' is about as in-depth as it gets for Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

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Though the trick play threat is always there when facing a Steve Spurrier coached team, Steele believes Spurrier has evolved in that his offense is run out of more formations these days.

"There are a ton of formations, a lot of shifts, a lot of motions--lining guys up in non-traditional places," Steele said. "When you peel it all back, the routes are the base routes they're going to run out of all that stuff."

He expects to see some sort of wildcat and "every kind of trick play you can draw up."

A hobby of sorts, Steele keeps a running reel of trick plays from the past several years. With Spurrier roaming the opposing sideline, there's no telling what kind of play will be called.

"Expect anything at any time," Steele said.

"He's been know for years for having stuff up his sleeve. I remember coach (Bobby) Bowden used to be that way at Florida State…they just run trick plays for the fun of it."

As a youth growing up in Dillon, Steele rooted for the Tigers. The ties were too deep for him to choose the Gamecocks. Steele's dad knew a host of Clemson coaches and his uncle was Danny Ford's high school coach.

Though he's never been to a Clemson/Carolina game, Steele is well-versed in rivalry games. He's been a part of Tennessee/Alabama games, Oklahoma/Nebraska, Florida/Florida State, Florida State/ Miami and Alabama/Auburn.

For Steele, this week is just like any other, despite the year-round tradition that is Clemson/Carolina.

"Rivalries are for the fans. That's my personal opinion, rightfully so and good," he said. "In terms of a coach, I think when you get into those situations, this one is a little unique--like the Florida/Florida State rivalry, in that it's two major teams in the same state, but they're in different conferences."

Steele doesn't buy into the notion that players prepare for and play harder against a rival opponent.

"It's business as usual…it's just another game, in terms of 11 on the field lining up in different ways and trying to out execute people," Steele said.

At the same, Steele is very well aware of what the Clemson/Carolina rivalry means to the folks in the state of South Carolina.

"It is an important game to the state, to the fans, because it is a rivalry game," he said. "That's great for football."

What's even better is when the rivals actually step onto the field and play.

Steele didn't see Stephen Garcia play last year, but from the looks of his stats, he sees improved play in the South Carolina quarterback.

"His touchdown to interception ratio is pretty good," Steele said. "He's playing well, doing good things."

He addressed the obvious matchup problem with the South Carolina receivers--namely the height of Alshon Jeffery, Tori Gurley, Jason Barnes and D.L. Moore--all stand at least 6-3.

"We've played big receivers all year, they've played little corners all year," Steele said matter-of-factly.

"It is what it is. You go out, compete and execute. Technique and fundamentals take care of things."

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