Clemson’s coaching staff is familiar with Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, who held the same position at Clemson from 2009-11.
But Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said too much stock is put into the perception that the familiarity with Steele gives Clemson a big edge when it comes to game planning and preparing for Auburn’s defense.
It has only been five years since Steele coached at Clemson. However, Scott said that is a long time ago in what he called “football years.”
“I don’t think there’s a huge advantage to working with him in the past,” Scott said of Steele on Monday. “Coaches change, and he’s changed some things defensively from where he was, so I think too much is made of that as far as the familiarity or any advantage that gives. I think it’s very little.”
That is especially the case for a season opener, according to Scott, who expects Steele to mix things up a little bit defensively in the first game.
“That first quarter, first half, there’s a lot of feeling out each other because everybody has had a year to add a few new wrinkles to what they did in the past,” Scott said. “It won’t be anything out of the ordinary for a first game in that respect.”
Steele did some things differently last year as LSU’s defensive coordinator than he did during his tenure at Clemson, and Scott thinks that will happen again at Auburn.
“It definitely adds a challenge to the opener when the coordinator is coming in for the first time,” Scott said.
To prepare for Auburn’s defense, Scott and the offensive coaching staff have watched film of LSU’s defense from 2015. They’ve also watched tape of Auburn from last season to study its personnel.
“We have to go off what we see on video and what we saw in their package at LSU last year,” Scott said. “We have to prepare for that, and then also what you expect them to do in game one in the first year in the system.”
After watching the film, Scott believes Auburn’s front four, led by all-SEC junior defensive end Carl Lawson, will be one of the toughest the ACC’s Tigers see all season.
“It starts off with Carl Lawson. He’s a premier defensive end,” Scott said. “He’ll be one of the top defensive ends we play all year. Then Montravius Adams in the middle is another guy we recruited very heavily. He’s very disruptive inside, so we have to have a plan for them.”
Things ended sourly for Steele after Clemson parted ways with him following the 2011 season, but Scott has a lot of respect for his former co-worker.
Scott said Clemson is looking forward to a challenge at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
“He did a really good job last year at LSU,” Scott said. “They were number 25 in total defense (yards per game) and finished 14th in rushing defense (total rushing yard allowed), which is very impressive in that league. So, we know we’ll definitely have a challenge, and our guys are looking forward to it.”