Tuesdays with Kevin Steele

CLEMSON - Corico Hawkins' goal of being the top rush defense in the country has very little meaning to Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele at this point in the season.

For starters, it's way too early for Steele to concern himself with the end of the year rankings.

"You're talking about an end result. You're talking about something at the end. Let's focus on the process," he said at the West End Zone on Tuesday afternoon. "That's what I talk to those guys about. Focus on the process. The process is one play at a time, do your job. All that other stuff, that's way down the road."

That could be quite the challenge on Saturday, especially since there are a couple of unknowns surrounding the North Texas offense.

Coordinator Mike Canales is in his first-year after spending the last three at South Florida. North Texas head coach Todd Dodge spent the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator and play caller for the Mean Green.

"What are we going to get," Steele asked. "Are we going to get the North Texas offense? Are we going to get the South Florida offense? Are we going to get a combination of both?"

One thing is for certain - there are going to be plenty of Lance Dunbar sightings in Death Valley on Saturday, and for good reason, too. The junior had a very productive 2009.

Dunbar ranked 15th in the nation and second in the Sun Belt Conference in rushing at 114.83 yards per game. His 17 rushing touchdowns ranked fifth nationally and his 19 total touchdowns ranked seventh. The 1,378 yards rushing was the fourth-highest single-season total in North Texas history and the fifth-most for a season in Sun Belt Conference history.

"He's a good player," Steele said. "People don't realize the parity in college football now. You can find first-round draft picks at defensive end from Troy State. There's always been finding those gems in the history of football. Now, it's pretty prevalent. It's broad-based when you start seeing NFL players from all over…he's as good a back as we'll probably face, not to say there are not other ones as good or other great ones. He's special."

How exactly Dunbar will get the ball "is the million dollar question." But Steele does expect to see plenty of zone-read.

"They are a zone-read team. We'll see that. I'd be shocked if we didn't. They get [the ball to Dunbar] like that," Steele said. "The big thing on him is his vision to hit a hole. When he hits that hole, he has the ability to go 70, 80 on you. When he hits it, he's moving."

But there are "extreme" differences in philosophies between coordinator and head coach.

Dodge's offenses used hardly any motion or pre-snaps shifts. Canales' uses "extreme" motions, sometimes 10-15 times in a row, according to Steele.

"That's the biggest difference," he said.

But it's the story of the unknown that will be critical Saturday. And also, how much quarterback Nathan Tune will be asked to do throwing the ball.

"Is it married? Are there two voices on the headset? Is it here are the keys, you do it. I'm just going to be the CEO. I don't know what the situation is. We'll find out pretty quick, I'm sure," Steele said.

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