Mr. Intensity

SUNSET, S.C. - It may be July, but spending just five minutes with Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele reveals it might as well be October.

Simply put, he's already in mid-season form.

Appearing on the local radio show Cruise Control on 104.9 FM The Drive earlier this week previewing the upcoming season, Steele was asked a myriad of questions surrounding his defense.

In between his answers, there was the routine snickering and laughing you generally hear on sports talk radio.

But when the time came for Steele to talk- he was all business. No laughing. No snickering. No smiling.

Call him Mr. Intensity.

"I guess I've always been that way," he told CUTigers at Tuesday's annual preseason golf tournament with the media. "Ever since I was eight, nine or 10 that's just how I've been."

As a defensive coordinator, that style probably suits him well.

After all, there's a certain kind of toughness that goes along with either playing on that side of the ball or coaching it. You have to be a little meaner. A little tougher. A little more aggressive.

It comes with the territory.

"I'm not like that because I'm in coaching," he said. "It's just how I am."


Kevin Steele discusses the new wrinkles he plans installing in Clemson's 2010 defensive scheme with CUTigers.com publisher Roy Philpott right here:
Of course this coming season Steele has plenty of reasons to crack a smile or two. He's bringing back a defensive unit widely considered to be one of the best in the ACC. With nearly every key player back up front, two of the best safeties in the country and a couple of experienced corners back in the fold, suggesting there is reason for optimism would be an understatement.

It's also Steele's second year in Tigertown. His players understand his scheme better and are more comfortable with their roles. In addition, with so much returning experience, there should be an extra wrinkle put in here and there- especially when it comes to bringing pressure.

"There's (new) wrinkles," Steele said. "There's wrinkles that we've got that are still on the table. There's some new things. You know we watched a lot of New York Jets film during the offseason. A lot of Saints film.

"Coverage-wise you aren't going to change your zone scheme or man scheme a lot. But the pressure stuff? You can't run them all but you can expand your package here and take out some of things there."

Sounds good, right? Especially just two seasons removed from a read-and-react scheme that seemingly had Clemson's defense on the field the entire game.

Steele says it's all about creating confusion for the offense.

"If you bring five guys- that's pressure. But they've got five guys blocking and a back probably check releasing. That's six blockers so they should be able to block you but you watch games every week where it doesn't happen. Why? Because there's so much of it they mess up.

"So your confusion causes their mistakes. You can't confuse people if you do the same things over and over and over."

Steele's enthusiasm and passion for the game certainly is unmatched. At the same time, he's also not one to believe what the pundits are saying about his defense.

"You know what they say about potential don't you?" he said. "Potential means you haven't done it before. This is a new group of guys this year and they haven't done it before."

Translation: he's not letting any kind of preseason hype get to his guys. And you can bet they'll be getting an earful of that when the pads go on in about three weeks.

Just another reason he's Mr. Intensity.

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